The greatest accomplishment for your small business is when you reach the milestone of enough paying customers to turn a profit and cover all your overhead expenses. This moment is that time when a sense of relief that your business truly has a chance of making it occurs and your thoughts now turn to growing and scaling operations to maximize the opportunity.
Serious questions must be answered before expansion plans are executed. Why did you start this business in the first place? Is this business your passion? Or did you just start the business because it seemed like a good idea at the time and you needed the money? Are you committed to its long-term growth? If you are passionate and committed, then it is time grow your business. If it is just a way to make money, but you don't love it, then it is time to either hand it over to professional management or sell the business before you are stuck with something that becomes a burden.
To grow a business takes hard work and if you don't feel it is an expression of yourself and your true calling it becomes a job. Creativity and self-expression stimulates growth and passion. This passion is reflected in your business. Now work becomes play and everyday represents opportunity for growing and expanding your business to optimize profits.
Assess the Situation
Now a new set of questions must be asked: How big is the marketplace you are serving? How do you reach potential customers? What type of infra-structure is necessary to support sales? Can you replicate your initial successes? Is the business worth scaling? If the answer is that there is a larger market to penetrate and the overall opportunity is significant, you must run pro-formas and cash flow projections to understand the financial requirements of growing your business. Capital requirements and sales projections must be based on three scenarios:
1. Worst case projections
3. Best case outcome
Have plans for each scenario and how to survive the worst case and still grow.
Building Your Team
Recruiting talent to execute your company's vision is one of the most important responsibilities you will have. Hiring the right people will determine your success. Period.
Find gifted and talented candidates that have the skills and desired background, but ensure that they fit the culture and feel of the small company. These new hires need to feel the passion and excitement about what the company is doing, not just be good at what they do.
Expanding Customer Base
Market penetration strategies should utilize all aspects of marketing, both old and new media. The quickest route to growth is to convert the early adaptors. Identifying key influencers that will establish credibility and convert others is mandatory. Replicate successes everywhere and create satisfied customers willing to share how great your business is with others. Create positive reviews and keep building a database of satisfied customers. Establish an online strategy that reaches out across the web to capture more and more customers. Build brand loyalty. Be everywhere and strategically utilize multimedia and customer engagement strategies. Refine and expand your digital online presence. Automate everywhere you can. Monitor cash flow and expand operations by reinvesting in growth. Utilize analytics and be data driven.
Listening to customers and continuing to innovate with better services or products will keep you ahead of your competitors. When you understand your customers and satisfy their needs and you realize you can grow quicker by raising additional capital to expand, you must make the decision of how fast you want to grow and what the competitive threats are if you don't grow fast.
Raising the Capital
Capital formation for expansion and growth is a feat of accomplishment that very few businesses experience. This is, however, a time of critical decisions. This is time to continue to grow or even look for exit strategies. Business development strategies will determine the future of your business. Grow with capital through revenues. Grow through raising capital. Grow with partners.
Growth options will open up many opportunities and is the most rewarding time of your business. You must determine where you want to take your business into the future with a clear vision for growth. Answers will come when you know what you want. The right business for you, great market opportunities, a fantastic scalable business, passionate and talented team, and capital requirements identified, all strategically position you to grow your business.