We all want to be in a position where we need to grow our business, but how do you know when the time is right? Growth can be a risky proposition— if you scale before you’re ready, you run the risk of over-extending and getting into a situation that isn’t profitable. On the other hand, if you expand at the right moment, you stand to reap some major rewards.
In this article, we’ll look at the key signs you need to watch out for to know when it’s time to grow your small business.
1. You’re Hearing From Customers in Multiple Markets
If you’re thinking of expanding your small business, the one thing you’ve got to know is if there’s a big enough market to justify growth. One simple litmus test is to ask yourself whether you’ve gotten inquiries from people in multiple markets. If you have emails in your inbox from a wider variety of markets than you have locations, it’s probably time to consider an expansion.
2. Your Leads Have Skyrocketed
When it comes down to it, for many businesses, it all about two things: the ability to generate leads and the ability to convert those leads into sales. When it comes to figuring out whether or not your small business should expand, a good place to start is with what’s coming in. If you’ve experienced a spike in inbound leads without spending significantly more on marketing, then it might be time for you to think about the best way for your small business to grow.
3. Your Business Has Been Profitable for a While
Another great indicator that your company needs to look at expansion is sustained profitability over a longer period of time, generally two or three years. If you’ve demonstrated this kind of success, it means that a lot of things about your business model are right and you’re probably in a strong position to build on that success. If you have something that’s already working, it’s a good bet that it’ will also work at a larger scale, too (as long as you’re cautious about not expanding too much too quickly).
4. You Have an Incredible Team
In a small business environment, we’re all running around trying to keep as many plates spinning at once as we can. The thing is, not everyone can manage that well, and if your team is adept at handling whatever problem comes their way it might be a key indicator that you should think about expanding your business. Expansion puts a lot of stress on your team and you’ll need to delegate more and more things. If you trust your team to take care of it, then it becomes a lot easier to be confident that growth is a good idea, and that you have just the right team to make it a success. If you can answer “Can I trust my team?” with a resounding yes, then you should start exploring plans to expand.
5. Demand Is Exceeding Capacity
If you’re constantly faced with more orders than you can possibly fill, it’s time to think about ways you can boost your production to meet that demand. People vote with their wallets, so if they’re willing to put up with a wait to get your product in their hands, it means that you’re offering something that’s in demand. At the same time, you want to be sure that you’re not experiencing a temporary increase that’s not sustainable, so make sure that you wait a few months before you decide to go “all in.” If your business is seasonal, or if you’re benefitting from a holiday rush, it might not be the right time to begin scaling.
6. You Have Money to Spend
Let’s be honest, one of the most difficult things about expanding your small business is that it’s costly. You need to get a new location, expand your staff, get more office space, purchase additional technology and more. All of this costs money, and you need to have cash on hand to do so. With any expansion, there’s going to be a ramp-up phase where you won’t necessarily see the money you invest pay dividends for an extended period of time. Between that and the risk inherent in expanding any business, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have the cash to cover yourself in any situation.
7. You Can Delegate Without Thinking Twice
If you’re seriously interested in expanding, remember you’re not going to have as much control as you might be in the habit of having. If you needed to take a leave of absence, would you be comfortable handing your business over to someone else? If you can’t answer that question confidently, you might want to think twice about whether your business is actually ready to expand. If you have complete confidence in your infrastructure and your team, then you should think about growth.
What You Can Do Right Now
If you want to grow your business and expand your brand, then you need to look at several factors to determine your company’s readiness. Whether you’re hearing from customers or building a strong track record of profitability and success, the key is to realize that expansion will be inevitable when it’s time to grow. Here’s a quick checklist of things that can tip you off that it’s time to grow your small business.
You hear from customers asking when you’ll come to their market.
Leads have jumped but you haven’t spent more on marketing.
You’ve built a track record of profitability.
The team you work with is incredible.
You’re rushing to keep up with demand.
The cash is there to fund expansion.
You’re at a place where you could leave your business for a month without thinking twice.
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