Thursday, October 9, 2014

Expanding your business

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     from my lifetime experiences starting up, operating, and growing businesses of my own.

     Expanding your business takes time, planning and moving forward one step at a time. I'm not talking growing--growing means getting bigger and bigger. Expanding means taking on a related market.

     Example: Jilletta is a chiropractor. She decided some time ago that she wanted to head in the direction of becoming a wellness center. She didn't know how many wellness experts she would be able to attract, and she didn't know how much space would be needed. So she spent several months talking with holistic providers, looking at buildings, investigating the market, and doing the numbers--projecting forward several scenarios and arriving at a business plan that made sense. Today, Jilletta's wellness center attracts clients looking for all sorts of treatments, including Reiki, massage, acupuncture, yoga sessions for individuals, nutritional guidance, aromatherapy, and other popular wellness interests. She provides space for the experts to meet and treat their clients--transients can simply pay her a fee, or longer term rentals can be made. There is a small room for information displays, including video. The center has attracted lots of attention in the community and beyond. Jilletta still sees her chiropractic patients here.

     Rushing into a business expansion is not a good idea. The business-like way to approach an expansion is to research the market, carefully plan out steps, and then take the plunge. 

     Example: Bill runs a landscaping service. He cuts grass, trims shrubbery, helps homeowners put plants in their yards. He parks his truck and trailer behind his own house, and his garage is full of equipment and materials. Inside, he turned part of a bedroom into a small office setup. To grow, his wife reminded him, he needed to get the business out of the house, out of the garage, and out of the yard. To expand, Bill looked around. He found a small garden center owned by an elderly man who was willing to enter into a lease-purchase agreement, selling the place to Bill. After carefully projecting the numbers, Bill jumped at the chance. The elderly man was looking for an income for his declining years, so they agreed to a payout that Bill could afford over the next 15 years. If Bill defaulted, the elderly man could repossess the place and sell it again. Today, Bill has expanded his landscaping services into a full-blown garden center attracting many more customers. With the expanded business, he has never missed a payment. To keep an eye on things, the elderly man still putters around the place, helping Bill with the operation and providing invaluable advice.

     When you want to expand your business, get creative. The possibilities are out there. It's up to you to home in on what works for you. 

     Other examples of expansion possibilities are scattered throughout these write-ups. I have used various methods to expand, and I have worked with others on their expansion plans. The important thing is to know what you're getting into--check out the market for what you're expanding into, and project some solid numbers with a business plan.

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