On the surface, the question of whether to grow your business might appear to be a no-brainer. However, spend a minute to contemplate all of the ramifications of expanding your enterprise, and it won’t take you long to recognize the sticky points. Getting bigger without careful planning and a 100 percent commitment of your time and energy can quickly backfire. In the worst case scenario, it could even leave you critically over-extended, under-staffed, burnt out and even broke. If you’re thinking of enlarging your operation, give this idea very careful consideration.
Small Business Local Expansion Ideas
Your wares are what has gotten you to this point; they are the badges of your success, and they are what brings your loyal customers back time and time again. Now that you have cultivated their trust, you could try to diversify your offerings. For instance, let’s say you run a successful bicycle shop that features all of the well-respected brands of touring and racing bikes. One way to grow your business would be to begin also featuring products that bike enthusiasts would be interested in: clothing and accessories such as lights, bells and locks, for example.
You probably already pride yourself on your second-to-none customer care, but there is always room for improvement. Take some time to figure out what you’re doing right – and what you could improve upon – by soliciting customer feedback. Encourage reviews on sites such as Yelp!, and actively ask your customers how you can improve. Review your checkout process to ensure that people are able to cash out without long lines or other frustrating issues.
Upgrading your credit card processing equipment may seem overwhelming, but taking this step can revolutionize the all-important customer experience. Modern point-of-sale systems not only streamline the payment process but also have numerous features that let you enhance your relationships with customers and automate many of your back office tasks. Your modern processing solution will quietly and efficiently complete many activities that once took you precious hours to achieve, leaving you with more freedom and flexibility to run your company and serve your customers.
While caring for your existing customers is vital, you also must constantly be attracting new ones. Today’s technology, particularly social media, provides an excellent platform to make this happen. However, you may have neither the time nor the expertise to mount a full-fledged marketing strategy. That’s where paid professionals can be invaluable. Even if you choose to only hire someone to get you up and running, the investment could pay for itself many times over. Never under-estimate the value of local college students who need internships in order to graduate from business programs.
Part of your marketing campaign will, no doubt, focus on social media. In addition to the boost you get from your professional marketer, you can also encourage your customers to visit your social media page, write reviews and like the entries you have made.
One of the best ways to grow your local presence in your community is to make appearances at as many events as possible. Whether it’s sponsoring a Little League team, getting a group together for a charity race or buying and filling a table at a philanthropic dinner, establishing yourself as a pillar of your town is one of the best ways to generate goodwill, grow your customer base and plump up your reputation. It should go without saying, but the more genuine you are in involving yourself in causes you are passionate about, the more people will respond.
Constantly work on adding names to your email list. This database can soon become the lifeblood of your growing business. Each of these people has the potential to bring several other customers into your store, so treat your list like the gold mine it is.
Never underestimate the power of freebies and promotional merchandise. People love to get something for nothing, a trait of human nature that can definitely be to your advantage because it will get your name out there to people who might otherwise be unaware of your business.
Scoping out your rivals is a great way to learn about trends in your industry. It can also serve as a springboard that enables you to use your creative powers to build on what is working for others. If your competitor is running a mile, your job is to cross the finish line and keep going for another few hundred feet.
Small Business Global Expansion Ideas
If you have decided to take that huge leap and expand into another country, don’t place the entire burden of reconnaissance on yourself. Act in the same way that armies have done for millennia: Enlist the help of natives who understand the customs and preferences of the locals.
If you are lucky enough to be selling products that will be newly introduced into an area, take full advantage of this good fortune. Doing so will involve enlisting the assistance of those who understand the culture to ensure that you get the word out in the most effective way possible. In general, you can expect to be particularly successful in nations such as South Africa, China, Thailand and South Korea, all of which are quickly becoming very open and friendly to foreign businesses and products.
While your sights are focused abroad, never take your finger off the pulse of the original business that is the vital root of your enterprise. If you stretch yourself too thin and begin to neglect the nerve center of your company, things will begin to fall apart.
Customs and cultures vary widely as you expand your company to other countries. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that techniques that sell products in the U.S. or Canada might fall flat in Asia, Africa or the Middle East. Take full advantage of your staff members and contacts who are familiar with local practices. They are the experts, not you.
The products you sell globally might also differ from what people buy at home. Only by taking time to speak to focus groups living in your new business headquarters abroad can you understand how to modify or tweak your selection to satisfy the needs and wants of your expanded customer base.
Outside The Box Expansion Ideas
Sometimes success can happen so quickly that you cannot possibly do everything on your own. At times like that, you might consider expanding into a franchise business that you sell to someone else to manage. Although you relinquish some of the control, you can make stipulations and requirements that all franchisees must follow in order to protect the brand you have worked so hard to build.
If you have the capital, consider joining your business with a competitor that sells similar products. By merging, you can combine your customer base and capitalize on the positive aspects of each brand.
Tap into the gold mine that your existing customers represent. Nothing creates more positive buzz than word-of-mouth feedback from a satisfied customer. Generating new business in this way is free, effective and rewarding for everyone involved.
If you are starting to feel like you have exhausted all of your potential sources of new business, investigate the possibility of applying for government contracts. Selling your products to the state or federal government can provide a long-term, stable income stream that can keep you going through the hard times.
Finally, if you want to grow in an entirely new direction, use your knowledge to start something totally new. Follow your passion; if you perceive a need in your community that is currently not being filled, perhaps you have what it takes. Just be sure you accumulate the capital, support and staff and do your best to ensure that the market will bear your new endeavor. With energy, commitment, resources and a product or service that people want, the sky is the limit.
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