Successful small business owners know how to get a business off the ground, but what comes next? Expanding a business takes time and money and can surely test one’s patience.
Due to the risky nature of expansion, many small business owners envision the concept to be especially daunting. Specifically, having managed to crack the code once, the possible disruption a new venture could take on their everyday activities can feel like a risky bet.
Multi-location businesses certainly weren’t built in a matter of days; it took time, strategic planning, patience, and determination. Once a business reaches a certain level of success, it might be time to take the next step, but you’ve got a lot to consider.
The idea of expanding doesn’t need to instill fear. Instead, it can be exciting and fulfilling, if done properly. If you’re ready to grow, or even thought about what that could look like in the future, here are some things to consider that will help you reach your goal.
Develop an Organized Approach
Where do you go first? Every new location you consider conducting business has their own set of distinctions—even if subtle. Some many be cultural distinctions while others might be city and/or state laws and regulations. All too often, the balancing act of adapting to new markets without sacrificing the key pillars of a business’ existing identity aren’t considered carefully enough when small businesses attempt expansion.
In order to successfully navigate the expansion into a new market, business owners should create one, cohesive business plan that identifies individual, local strategies that remain in sync with their overall objectives and brand identity. Cater to local markets, but remain consistent in your messaging, overall plan, and goals.
If you’re going to be expand your business to another state or city, there will inevitably be a learning curve and the possibility of unforeseen issues. Being sensitive to these differences will help you to gain the trust of locals.
Build and nurture close relationships with established, local businesses. This way, you’ll be able to have a better lay of the land and identify ways to stay competitive. Take advantage of those around you for learning and developing strategic partnerships, which could open the door to future opportunities.
Identify and Appeal to Local Markets
Going into unfamiliar or new territory isn’t easy, and not every one them will be right for your business. Especially in your initial expansion, you’ll need to identify which markets make the most sense. As you grow, you’ll learn a lot about your business. What worked in your first location might not work everywhere else.
You’ll need to refine the way you operate on a larger scale and leverage that information to determine which locations will provide the most ROI. Some locations might be outliers, but through identifying what works across multiple locations, you can better understand where there is a need for the service you provide or product you produce in the future.
Diversify Your Business
How can you stand apart from your competitors? Finding a way to make your company and/or product stand out is an excellent way to increase sales and profit margins. Are you able to offer a complimentary service or product or run a promotion?
Consider branching out with regard to different locations. For example, if you’re a clothing retailer you may offer a different selection of a similar line of outerwear accessories on the East Coast versus the West Coast. Think about who your customers are and what would be beneficial for them based on the surrounding elements.
Measure Your Success
You may wonder how you’ll be able to effectively measure the level of success and how to ensure the same standards of success are being met across multiple locations. It’s crucial to use technology and systems that encourage a high-touch experience, as well as ensuring the right people are managing these systems.
When selecting people to represent your company, bring in well-versed and proven executives as you initially build from the local team. They can establish key goals and objectives and then formulate a team that will be fit the company’s needs.
Growing your business is a full time investment, not only professionally, but on a personal level as well. You’ve got to properly research, vet out what is best for your business, weigh the pros and cons, and take risks; it’s not easy.
Working at Revel over the past several years, I’ve seen small businesses successfully grow into larger operations. Our POS platform has helped businesses realize their full potential, which is one of our goals.
I know it can be done, but it’s important to remember timing must be right, and the business owner needs to be ready. Take Revel client Sliderz for example, they were a single-location business that now has expanded to 100 locations. Sliderz had a vision and they were able to successfully grow their business. It’s just one example of many businesses that have expanded
By following some of the guidelines outlined here, you’ll be on your way to a bigger and brighter future. That is, if you want it badly enough.
Contributed by Bobby Marhamat, Revel Systems Chief Revenue Officer.