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Many small business owners dream of growing their company into something bigger, better, and further reaching. But the path to successful expansion is trickier than you might think. With this in mind, here are some practical and useful warnings for approaching business growth that all small business owners should be aware of.
Research, research, research
It’s one thing thinking you want your business to go global or expand to new, great heights. But is there a good market for what you do to work on a massive scale? If not, you are facing a lot of issues before you even get started. Don’t forget, many small businesses find the transition to becoming a large company incredibly difficult, and many even fall by the wayside. So, before you plan for growth, research the market to find out if it is a proper direction to take.
How are you going to afford all this? Not many businesses get the opportunity to grow organically over time – life and business don’t tend to work like that. You will need to find money from somewhere, whether that is through a bank loan or investment from a private investment company. Bear in mind if you go down the latter route you might have to accept giving up a significant proportion of control of your business.
Your business also needs to scale up its infrastructure to provide a service to more customers in many more locations. It’s one of the biggest stumbling blocks for small businesses, too, but there are a few ways of making it happen. Choosing IT services that can scale up according to your needs is a good start, of course. But you will also need to investigate critical things like logistics systems and transport routes. Large businesses have entirely different needs and procedures than small businesses and making a successful leap can be challenging.
Another big area of concern when it comes to expansion is a drop in your customer service standards. As a small business, first-class customer service is probably one of the major reasons why you have enjoyed success in the past. But losing that small business status and growing into a larger organisation brings its own problems. The friendly phone service you personally offered to your customers might have to be replaced by a call centre. The face-to-face friendliness over the counter might take a hit if you have to start hiring a lot more people – who may not have the level of expertise you once demanded.
Finally, while the idea of business expansion is to increase your chances of success, there is a huge risk that everything could go the other way entirely. There will be many added pressures, and running multiple sites or larger teams will require a different level of thought and expertise than a single store or service. The rewards can be fantastic, of course, but you have to have a long, hard think about whether you can manage change successfully. Good luck!
Co-founder of zenruption