By Dr Billy M.
When it comes to expanding your small business, you first have to assess its current state and determine where to focus your energy and resources for growth. Then you have to strategize on ways of reaching new client segments as well as launching more products and services into the market. To be successful, your business must be bringing in constant profits, as growth cannot be achieved fully if you have to look for financing elsewhere. Furthermore, you must be willing to offer your time and effort to this endeavor, be dedicated to research, and be prepared to use experts in certain areas. Although this article gives you a 10-step plan to expand your physical or online business, you may choose to implement all or some of the steps, depending on the resources at hand. Step 1: Establish an online presence
The Internet can be one of the greatest tools for a small business to leverage in order to thrive in a challenging economy, since operating from a brick-and-mortar store generally limits you to one specific location. By aligning the physical store with a website, you effectively eliminate boundaries on potential clients that can see and purchase your products from different locations around the world. Make use of social networks by having a page that distinguishes your products or services; keep it updated regularly with information that makes the reader more inclined to promptly "share" your information — the cornerstone of social media marketing. Note, however, that you ought to indicate clearly on your website whether you have the capacity to ship your goods to other states or countries. Step 2: Patent your products
Reaching a wider market comes with its challenges of competing with counterfeits. However, when you have your brands patented and products trademarked, your customers will be assured of quality. In addition, you may be able to sue any business that infringes on your intellectual property rights, and you will be protected from charges of violating other businesses' rights. A patent or trademark is not meant for new inventions or gadgets only; rather, it protects any intellectual property from being copied or used by others without your consent. This may include physical products, cutting-edge processes, or innovative business techniques. Step 3: Find a new physical location
If your business has shown steady growth over the past few years and you have maintained a consistent bottom-line profit, it may be time to open other physical stores or branches in different towns or states. In addition to a potential increase in sales, this will ensure that customers do not have to travel long distances to buy your products or use your services. Here are some tips on expanding your small business to other locations:
Step 4: Make prime products or services available internationally
- Each new location should have its own unique business plan that specifies, among other essential items, how the project is to be financed.
- The choice for a new location should be determined by such business considerations as your company's staying power and potential market, not merely your ability to afford the premises.
- Ensure that you have a management team in place that can handle the initial administrative functions of the new location.
If you are seeking strategies to spur your business's growth, consider expanding into global outlets. This gives you exposure to more locations to beat your competition. You may not have to have different products from those you currently deal in to move to other countries. You can identify the international markets that would be interested in your existing products or services and target them. Similarly, if you have to import or export from other countries, it is best to familiarize yourself with the shipping, trading, and customs requirements of those countries. Also, you should find a shipping logistics partner to ensure smooth delivery of products in the international markets. Step 5: Offer business opportunities via franchising
Another great way to expand your business is by offering franchises. Franchising is an operating system that can provide ownership on the part of other business proprietors operating your business brand in markets outside your local territory. This allows you to create more jobs as well as to improve your profit margin. Since franchisees have a vested interest in their work, your administrative obligation is to provide strong leadership to keep the vision for growth and expansion in focus. Engage a good franchise attorney and make use of franchise mentors who will give you insights into what works best and share their success stories with you. Step 6: Partner with successful businesses
Working with other businesses that have long lists of prospective clients can also help your business expand. Customers will be able to think of your products when they encounter your partners. This will ultimately lead to business growth when they consider purchasing your products. Aim to partner and join forces with businesses that complement your own through promotion and marketing of your products for a win-win position. For Internet-based businesses, you can make a deal to exchange links with your partners to increase traffic to each other's sites. You may also consider regular ad swaps in your respective websites or newsletters. Step 7: Look into government contracting
Federal, state and local government contracts are hard to come by, but once acquired can often prove fertile ground for small businesses, enabling your business ascend to greater heights. Furthermore, your business moves to a different level from the competing businesses in the industry. However, the process of bidding on government contracts and winning them takes a bit of education and legwork; therefore, be prepared to learn what it takes and go for it. Step 8: Acquire new businesses
An effective growth plan may include focusing on deserted products with loyal customers. Those customers could become your own if you could buy the businesses creating them. Alternatively, you may want to hire the best staff from a neglected business that would bring their experience and expertise to your enterprise. In short, the keys to your success lie in customer and staff retention and melding technologies for a smooth integration, as well as an enhanced focus on a neglected product. Step 9: Target different markets
If you have a product idea that can move along with your current products and reach out to a different market niche altogether, then combine your efforts and introduce it. Targeting those markets could make your business more profitable because you will be adding to your list of customers. Step 10: Diversify
Diversification can be an excellent growth strategy for expanding your small business, as it enables you to access multiple streams of income. When products from your main business do not sell for a certain period, you are able to stay afloat as these peripheral ventures fill seasonal voids. It is advisable to get into undertakings that are aligned to your core business, such as selling complementary products or services; importing or exporting products for yourself or others; or becoming a paid blogger, speaker, or columnist about your industry.