The good news is, your business is growing! The bad news is, your business is growing! Growth, while often long sought-after and hard won, can be a double-edged sword. Business expansion can strain infrastructure, impact product/service quality, dam up cash flow, result in poorly considered hires, and more. This is not to dissuade you from growing your company! If it’s time, it’s time. But you do need to prepare.
Are you ready?
7 Business Expansion Tips to Help You Avoid Growing Pains
1. Assess Where You Are Now
Where are you? What is your current capacity? Of what are you, your people, and your current infrastructure capable? If you’re struggling to keep up with your workload, business expansion seems like a no brainer - but just adding more people or a bigger space won’t solve that problem. You need to build in time to acclimate as you scale up.
If you need additional resources - whether in terms of equipment, infrastructure, and/or people - create a plan to have these in place before you ramp up your expansion efforts.
2. Don’t Wing Growth: Plan for It
If business expansion is in your future, take the time to formulate a solid strategic plan. Who will you hire? How will you deliver on client/customer promises? How will you manage costs? How will you manage the physical move itself? For example, if you’re transferring from a garage (Bill Gates had some great success there) to a larger Palm Beach office space, who will handle the logistics of property acquisition and moving?
Think big, plan bigger. Create a plan that encompasses the questions we asked above, as well as takes into consideration the expanding costs of expanding businesses. Create realistic, measurable, and manageable goals so you are not faced with an overwhelming adjustment when you do scale up.
3. Crunch the Numbers
Growth doesn’t always equate to endless cash. You’ll need to be able to scale up your finances as you scale up your business. Get a handle on your numbers first, and go both big picture and granular. How much does it cost to produce X widget? To ship Y product? To train one employee? In other words, you want an answer to this question: what does it cost to run my business?
If you don’t know that, you will be floored by the costs of running an even bigger business. Don’t let it be a surprise.
4. Don’t Forget About Your Human Assets
If you want to expand, you’re going to need more people on board. It’s virtually inevitable that you’ll need to hire additional employees or forge relationships with independent contractors. Do it now. Don’t wait until you’re sitting in your great new Palm Beach office space, trying to answer the phone, put out a product, conduct market research… and do your regular job on top of all that.
Whether your growth is sudden or gradual, you need to build and maintain a talent pipeline. If you leap into business expansion without the right talent to support you, you’ll waste untold time, money - and more blood, sweat, and tears than you need to. A good philosophy to guide business expansion, and business in general, is “Always be recruiting!”
5. Make Sure Your Processes Are Scalable
First, make sure your processes are standardized and documented. Many small companies tend to know what they’re doing and don’t bother to commit it to writing. Do it. As you expand, new hires will need to know the what’s, why’s, how’s, and where’s so they can get onboarded as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Next, make sure those processes are scalable. If they only work if you’re serving X number of customers or if you have Y number of employees, for example, look at reconfiguring them so you can expand your reach and capability.
6. Set Your Team Up for Success
As you scale up, your reliance on technology solutions is also likely to grow: this enables you to manage data with more accuracy and flexibility, to engage with customers and clients, to remain competitive in the market, and to attract and retain qualified employees.
When making the move to a larger space, consider how your people will work. Set up workstations that are conducive to productivity: they should be outfitted with the tech they need (laptops, tablets, software, etc.). Common areas or meeting/conference rooms should be equipped with interactive whiteboards and other gear designed to facilitate communication and collaboration.
Don’t forget to make sure you also have secure data solutions in place, whether cloud or hybrid, so you can comply with regulations pertinent to your industry and store/manage sensitive information safely.
7. Consult with a Commercial Real Estate Broker
Business expansion encompasses far more than moving into a larger space - but that is often a key component. At a time when your business is experiencing growth, and growing pains, take one ache off your back. A qualified commercial real estate broker can help you find the perfect property and secure favorable terms so you can get right down to business.
Expanding is an exciting stage in your business’s life: if you’re ready, we can help you move into the location that will facilitate operations and allow you to work bigger and better!