So you’ve looked at how your business is running, you’ve realised that it’s growing well and you think the time is right to expand. So what do you do next? Suddenly doubling your staff and doubling the size of your premises isn’t necessarily the right way to go about it.
Expansion needs to be carefully planned and properly prepared for. If you do it right, your business will continue to run smoothly and you’ll have set yourself up for future expansion too. Here are a few tips to help you expand smoothly and successfully.
- When you know you will be expanding or moving, talk to the people who work for you. They will be actively involved in this, and they may have some very useful suggestions to help you. If you’re moving premises, they need to know as they will be responsible for packing up their work area and they may need to help you with other departments as well. If your staff members know you are looking to expand, this can give them a lot of confidence in you and your business, and being there when it happens makes them feel part of a team.
- If you are trying to run things yourself and you know you need to take on more staff, sit down and work out where you need the help. If you are a very small business, you will need to increase your team as you grow, and this will mean passing some of the work you do on to others. Work out what you spend your time doing and highlight the things which either take too long or you know you are not as skilled at. This way you know where you will need to get help so that you can hire the right people.
- If you need to hire new people, you may not be confident in offering them long-term or permanent contracts. A lot of businesses make full use of contractors and virtual staff, and this can help you without giving you a long-term commitment. If you advertise for staff, you can say that it will start part-time, but may have the option to go full-time. Anyone who applies for this will want to do their best so that they get the full-time hours and that can be a big benefit to you. Alternatively, if you use agency staff and contract staff it can be very easy to adjust their hours up or down, as the business requires.
- Moving to a new site is possibly the most daunting aspect of a move. If you are moving from your home office, finding good office premises can be expensive, so take your time to look around. One option is hot desking, which allows you to hire desk space on a daily basis. Hot desking means you have no overheads, as you only pay for the days you spend working on site. If you have other people who work with you, you only pay for the days they work, and you don’t have to worry about leases or rental agreements. If you’re looking at factory space, think carefully about how it is laid out and don’t be tempted to take the wrong premises because you’ve been offered a good deal.
- Before you expand, you should research any new products you intend to include and make sure everything is set up ready. Don’t just find a product and decide to sell it. Find out if there’s a market for it. Do other people sell it and if so how much for? You need to know you’ll make a profit on it. Look at reviews online from people who have bought or used this product to find out if it really works. You should check out your chosen supplier too. It’s no good buying your first batch at a good price, only to find the company no longer exists the next time you place an order.
- With new products in place, you now need to find a market for them. You don’t need a big marketing campaign to start you off – simply offer it to your existing customer base. A simple email campaign with a discount code could get your expansion off to a good start. This also gives you the opportunity to get your own feedback before you market it to new customers.
- There’s a good chance you know other business owners in your area, and there are many forums online where you can discuss ideas. Ask around and find out if there are reliable contractors in your area, or which delivery company others use. A lot of companies like to network and share information, as you may find you can use their services one day, and likewise they may be able to use yours, so don’t be afraid to ask other businesses for advice on how they planned and managed their own expansions.