Monday, November 30, 2015

Ways to expand

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     Expanding can be a big step for a small business. Or it can be several small steps taken over time.

     You might open a new office or add a new group of products. You might add shipping for orders placed on your website and promote on social media. You might move to a new location or take off in a new business direction.

     These decisions take careful planning ahead--before you jump off the cliff. Always do a business plan before changing directions. Otherwise, you can overwhelm yourself and your business.

     Example: Ted runs a pet store--no pets, but everything else customers need for their pets. He carries foods, supplies, accessories, and more. To expand, Ted added shipping for orders placed on his expanded website. To his surprise, many of his current customers began ordering online instead of coming to the store. He began posting on social media, and more orders came in--from people in a much wider area. Ted had suddenly expanded his operation. He hired another employee to handle shipping orders.

     Example: Alec was the only physician in a small town. He wanted to expand by establishing a walk-in clinic in a neighboring town about 20 miles away. That town was one of several active suburbs of a large city. It was a big step for Alec. Suddenly, he had two operations, and the strain of keeping up with two offices began to affect him. He looked for another physician to run the new clinic, found a good candidate, and put together a partnership. Today, Alec runs four walk-in clinics, each with its own resident physician. 

     Example: Irene runs a small cafe serving breakfasts and lunches only. She decided to expand by adding dinners. She also decided to step carefully into the new direction. First, Irene began emphasizing healthy, farm-to-table breakfasts and lunches, using social media. Next, she began offering special Friday only dinners, featuring ethnic foods--one Friday it would be Mexican, the next Friday was Italian, then French and so on. Enjoying some success, Irene then extended dinners to Saturday evenings. She is letting the new restaurant's brand settle into the community's go-to thinking before taking another step. 

     Wandering into an expansion is not a good option. Expanding takes careful planning. Only if the numbers make sense, and only if your own intuition confirms the idea, do you proceed.

     Before expanding, always do a business plan. And that means paying attention to the marketplace. Can your expansion be supported?


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