Your small business is finally off the ground and, in fact, quite successful. Now, you’ve made the decision to expand. What next? Whether you expand via a physical location or a digital reach, you have a lot of work ahead of you. While broadening your horizons may seem intimidating, you can follow a pathway to guide you in the right direction. In the end, business owners can expand without compromising their sanity. Here are a few simple tips:
- Be methodical: In order to truly “do it right,” business owners have to first figure out what it means to actually expand. Expanding is a huge under-taking, one that requires a significant time commitment, not only on your behalf, but also from your staff as well. Step one in your methodology is creating the ultimate check-list: plan to hire more people; pay for additional overhead, and allocate more corporate time to employee development. Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Allot extra time each day for any unforeseen difficulties, because they will surface. If your expansion includes moving to a new space, solidify your move-in dates ahead of time so you can inform clients, new and old. There must be a method to every step of the madness. Don’t leave anything to chance.
- Expect the unexpected: Planning ahead won’t save you from emergencies––make sure you have some sort of emergency fund available. This can be in the form of a business line of credit, an actual bank loan, or credit card with a high revolving line and 0 APR. Research any permits or paperwork you might have to file in accordance with your expansion. For example, a simple signage permit can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but the penalty for not having one can be much higher. Worst of all, lacking a permit can create a stop-work-order, so ensure that you have done your research on what you need. If moving to a new location, put some money aside for additional construction costs and mispriced renovation quotes. It’s common to want to add details to your initial renovation (ie: LED lighting, bathroom upgrades, new fixtures), but each add-on comes with a cost. Expect the unexpected when it comes to renovations. The small things add up, so set aside money now, so you aren’t in over your head when you’re given your bill.
- Put everything in writing: When making plans for your business, it’s common to call, text or have meetings in person, but make sure you have a paper trail for every agreement, contract or general interaction regarding your business and those you are hiring to work with. Recap every phone call with an email that summarizes the call. This way, there is no confusion. Make sure you organize everything. Label every email, every contract, and record every interaction. Have multiple back-ups of all your documents and ensure that everything is up to date. You’ll be very happy later on that everything was in writing.
- Trust your gut: You will be making many costly decisions and people will question you every step of the way. Only you can truly determine what your business needs. Stay away from naysayers as you go through the change process. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Invest in a few small lucky charms, take a deep breath and trust the decisions you are making. Mistakes happen. Learn from them and move on.
- Add services to expand your brand: It’s easy to forget why you’re in business in the first place. Just because you’re expanding, doesn’t mean you change everything. Continue to perform the quality services your customers have come to know but also take the time to think of other services you can provide that will help broaden your business and attract new customers. Don’t try to do too much, or else the quality of your services will diminish. Stay true to your roots and reflect the high quality brand and reputation you have built.
- Learn to let go: You can’t micromanage everything. Trust in the people that you hired to do their job. You are already ahead of the game by choosing to take your business to the next level. Have enough trust in yourself to let go of the little details and keep your focus on the bigger picture.