You’ve had some success with your small business. Now what? It’s time to think about growth.
Your first moves toward expansion can seem intimidating, but this shouldn’t keep you from pursuing larger business goals. You have to establish clear plans to leverage proven technology, finance, and market acumen.
An entrepreneur that establishes a foothold today can advance to running a large-scale enterprise ten years from now. The first step to achieving that scale is to start thinking about that future.
Signs that your business is ready to grow:
It’s been profitable for at least a few years
You’re running out of space
It has more business than you can logistically handle
Its customers are asking you to expand
Its industry is growing
You see a need for related products
How to strategically scale your business
Now that the “why” is squared away, the trickier aspect is the “how.” Many entrepreneurs have been stymied by the overwhelming nature of organizational change and future planning. The best strategy is to ensure you have a strong infrastructure and then plot a course of action centered around innovation and savvy investments.
Develop a solid technology strategy and infrastructure
Businesses that can deploy standardized and automated processes will find it easier to scale and expand. A technology plan positions your company with a better strategic focus and impacts its overall productivity.
Tools and processes incorporating elements of automation, artificial intelligence, and collaborative technology can empower your employees to make smarter business decisions. Cloud-based tools, in particular, help automate key insights generated from business data. For example, you might consider combining data from your finance and operations departments with an ERP system, in order to gain cross-functional insights.
Disparate areas of your business may exert a strong influence on each other and ultimately drive overall growth. Increased visibility into disparate, critical business metrics — including logistics, finance, and customer relations — will help you develop strategies and best practices that account for the health of your whole business.
Keep an eye on cash flow
About 80 percent of businesses fail due to cash flow mismanagement. Don’t let your business be one of them. Your cash flow might be stable now, but what happens when you expand? You may have planned on opening up a new retail location or beefing up your advertising spend, but there are many other “extra” costs that can put significant strain on your business capital if not properly accounted for.
We recommend separating your working capital and growth capital so that daily expenses are easier to forecast and budget for. Savvy entrepreneurs often establish business lines of credit or longer-term business expansion loans to keep finances steady while they scale.
Focus on constant innovation
Innovation focuses on two central themes:
What problem is my customer facing?
How does my product or service solve that problem?
Customer priorities and desires can change like the weather. So, your company must foster a culture of innovation to remain competitive. Continuous product development and iteration is a great way to retain and attract new customers. For example, if duct tape or olive oil had only one use, imagine how much smaller their respective markets would be.
Businesses that pay attention to emerging trends can better address the needs of their customers and capture a greater market share.
Set and communicate goals
No growth strategy is complete without clear-cut, measurable goals. Setting achievable business goals is an art and a science. The key is to focus your energy on the factors that contribute most towards creating a lasting culture of success. Talent acquisition, expense management, and marketing are all increasingly vital to success in competitive markets.
Boosting employee retention, cutting down on overhead, or deploying a social media campaign are all tactics that can put you on the right track. Make sure to outline goals that can be measured over time. This way, you’ll have a better baseline for success, even if you fall short of your goal. As long as you’re gathering data that can inform future strategy, no failure can be considered a truly wasted effort.
Your business won’t be “small” forever. You have big plans for the future, so make sure your execution is aligned with your goals. The world’s biggest brands were once startups and small businesses, too. If you can take a look at the bigger picture and invest in tools and processes that will allow you to realize your full potential, your business may even become the next world-famous brand.
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