Growing Your Business – The Safe Way
If you’re running a business, whether it’s a multinational behemoth or just you and a friend in a spare bedroom, it’s always important to think about growth. In many ways, growth is a necessity: if you don’t identify opportunities to grow your business, to offer more, faster, to more people then you’re ceding those opportunities to your competitors.
On the other hand, making poor choices about how you grow can see you waste resources, water down your brand and fail your loyal customers.
Finding the safe way to grow is important: seeing all the opportunities, but having both the insight and confidence to spot which ones are the right fit for the business you have and the future you plan for it. Let’s take a look at three questions to answer:
What’s The Core of Your Business?
The more you grow, the more important it becomes to remember what the core of your business is. If you seize on any opportunity to grow your business, to expand your audience, to add more products to your line then you risk undermining the core identity that caused people to latch onto you in the first place.
Try some basic market research – as basic as handing out a survey in store or via email – to find out what customers think your business is, and why they value it. If you’re perceived as a luxury brand, growing your audience by adding budget offerings might drive away your original customers with no guarantee it will bring in new ones!
What Are Your Rivals Up To?
Competitive analysis and research is a vital part of any expansion effort. Whether you’re working on a new product launch, opening a new branch or simply pinning down the dates of an advertising campaign, you need to know what other businesses in the same niche are likely to do. Pouring resources into the development and launch of a new product, only to have a rival unveil something similar one week before you’re ready can be a disaster for a business.
What Can You Sustain?
Before you take a leap into growing your business, you need to think about what kind of stresses your business can sustain. Any kind of growth requires investment of time and money, which involves a combination of dipping into your capital, securing investment, taking on debt, moving existing resources around and hiring new people.
If you take on costs you can only sustain in the short term in order to open a new shop in a new town and it takes longer than that period to start breaking even then you could be in trouble. If you try to stretch your management capacity to cover new locations or new hires, you risk missing important developments and undermining your ability to make good decisions.
Before you commit to a growth opportunity, do the work to answer these questions to your satisfaction. The answers can all change over time, so it’s worth reviewing regularly, so you know how ready you are to grow safely.