While there is a plethora of information and support around to help business start-ups, the trail goes a little cold once the business is up and running and the time comes to grow and expand.
Developing your business is just as crucial as sustaining it. If business is good, don’t let it stagnate, or it may well ultimately start to rot! It takes courage – but then so did starting up in the first place – so when everything’s ticking over nicely, gird your loins and think about how to get growing.
There are numerous ways to take the next step, but you need to pick the ones that are right for your type of business. Let’s look at a few possibilities:
- Diversify your product or service line and sell complementary products or services. For example, if you own a restaurant, branch out into offering cookery classes. Diversification doesn’t necessarily mean selling new or different products and services. It could be as simple as hiring yourself out as a paid speaker or blogger in your area of expertise. Once you’re sure your core business is stable, start thinking of ways and means to bring in more revenue streams.
- The obvious way to develop your business is to sell more of what you make or do. Think creatively about how you can target new markets. Find new cost-effective ways of promoting your business to chase new sales and new markets, like social media advertising and participating in trade shows. Use your existing customers to find more by encouraging referrals, and find ways to sell more to those who are already buying from you.
- Open another branch at a new location. This will require careful research and a business plan just like you did when you started your business, particularly when choosing the location itself. You’ll also need to staff the new branch if you open a new physical outlet – you can’t be in two places at once! A new location could even be virtual – open an online store with an ecommerce website.
- Perhaps your business lends itself to franchising. If your business has proved highly successful so far, there will be others keen to share in your success. Many entrepreneurs have found that franchising is a fast-track way of growing a business, but you’ll need to get clued up on the pros and cons and develop a franchising system. If you think going this route is for you, the British Franchise Association will help.
- Licensing your product or service is not a huge money-spinner, but you can sell on the license for a fee and continue to reap some income from the ongoing use of your trademark, design, brand name or other intellectual property. There’s more about this process online from the Intellectual Property Office. You’ll need a legal agreement to cover yourself if another company wants to use your Intellectual Property.
- Forming an alliance with a similar business can greatly expand your prospects and capability to serve a bigger area and/or market. You could join forces, for instance, with another successful business in the same line willing to sell your products on a commission basis. All sorts of mutually-profitable alliances and deals are possible, from outsourcing the manufacture of product components to putting heads together to solve development problems.
- Talking of wheeling and dealing, another way of expanding your business is to take over another one! There could be great opportunities in buying a bankrupt business and absorbing it into yours, or negotiating a merger with another similar company. Advantages could involve all sorts of things, from gaining experienced staff to acquiring new technology.
- Exporting is hot right now, and there is plenty of advice and support available for those wanting to take on the world. British products are in demand and there are plenty of markets to be tapped abroad if you can find a reliable and trustworthy foreign distributor.
Great job if your business has got off the ground as is now running smoothly – now take it to the next level!