When you first launch a business, you can be so focused on daily operations that you don’t take the time to step back and realise it actually might be time to expand. It’s exciting when you recognise that your business – something that had been an idea in your head, a dream – has caught on with customers.
As thrilling as this success can be, growing your business can be just as scary as starting it. You want to make sure that you’re doing things the right way, at the right time, to avoid mistakes that could jeopardise your company. Here are five indicators that it could be time to grow your business:
1. You can’t keep up with demand.
The decision to expand should never be prompted by a desire to stick to an arbitrary growth plan when you don’t have any real justification for doing so. Before you even consider expanding, ask yourself — is there really a need to? Do you have more orders than your staff and facilities can handle? Can you accommodate the number of customers that you’re attracting? If your numbers warrant growth, that’s the first step.
2. You have a solid team in place.
A strong group of employees is essential when you’re considering expanding. If you’re planning to open new locations, you’re going to be spending a good deal of time getting things up and running in those areas — so you need to have people you trust to make sure your flagship doesn’t end up flagging in the meantime.
If you don’t have confidence in your team, make some changes and key hires before moving forward. Also, ask yourself if you need to hire more employees. Before you expand, you want a competent, well-trained team ready to go.
3. You have enough cash.
Expansion takes money. So, even if you have a stream of orders coming in, you’re not in a position to grow unless you’re actually getting paid. Only when you have strong, positive cash flow should you consider taking the next step.
4. You’re running out of space.
Whether you’re working in a restaurant, a manufacturing facility, or a commercial kitchen, you obviously need enough room to operate comfortably. And if the number of customers visiting your business has boomed or you’ve increased staff but are still in the same space, everyone is going to get frustrated.
Don’t be hasty about leasing a larger space or opening a new location. First, make sure that your growth is consistent and not just an irregular boost. And don’t get ahead of yourself. Expand gradually to avoid investing in a space that’s too large or expensive for your business to sustain.
5. There’s a demand for more products and services.
If you’ve created a product that has taken off, think about variations you could make. For example, if it’s a food product, think about new flavour and size options. If it’s an item of clothing, consider more colours and fabrics.
Also, take your customers’ input seriously. If they’re constantly asking for something you don’t offer or if they have an interesting idea for a new flavour or product, it might be something worth pursuing.