Taking a business from an idea to a realization is a big feat – and something that costs significant time, effort, and money. And when you find that a steady cash flow continues to come in, growth may be warranted – and even inevitable.
So, how do you know if and when your business is ready to grow? And even if it’s time to expand, what if you’re not ready internally? In fact, your business could be ready to grow, but constrained by you. It’s time to ask yourself these four questions. Your answers will help pave the way for your business’ future.
- Am I being realistic about my expectations and growth plan?
A good way to keep yourself in check is to analyze your data regularly to see what your company can handle. Review customer profiles, spending habits and patterns, referrals, seasonal ebbs and flows and more. Look at cash flow throughout the course of a year and make calculated predictions about your rate of growth and what you need to do to prepare.
As your business grows, so will your expenses. This could include new employees, materials, office space, etc. Review what you’ve needed to manage your operations up until now, and the changes you may need to make down the road.
- Are new customers consistently coming to my business?
If customers are coming to you – with minimal effort – then it may be time to expand your reach. With service-based businesses, each additional customer can spur new growth since word-of-mouth marketing is especially important.
Put a plan on paper to boost your marketing efforts and increase reach and grow a valuable customer database. Additionally, continue to provide great services and support to keep your current customers coming back for more – and so they tell others how much they enjoyed their experience. And don’t forget to sell your services the way customers want to buy with online product catalogs, website integrations, and social plugins. This helps customers shop your services anytime from their computer, phone, or tablet.
- Are we meeting established goals already?
Look at your previous business strategy and the goals you’ve outlined for your business. How long did it take you to meet them? Were both the goals and the timelines reasonable? Proving you can meet defined objectives builds both internal and external confidence in your company’s ability to expand.
An easy step to incorporate into both your current business growth strategy and future planning is utilizing data and reporting capabilities. A clear view of your customers’ purchase histories can help you make better decisions on growing your business. And with order management, customer reconciliation, and reporting, you’ll always know where your cash flow stands.
- Am I ready for the change? Are my employees?
Having more work than you can handle might not mean you need to add employees—it could be the start of a bigger change. Before you make any drastic decisions, ensure you have the right team in place. In addition to strong leaders, it’s important to properly build out a team of qualified workers who are invested in the company’s success.
Secondly, assess if you and your employees can handle the additional workload. If you’re working around the clock, changes must be made, or else you’ll burn out. With an online presence, you’ll reduce incoming calls or questions and allow customers to buy around the clock – even when you’re not available. That’s a win-win for your team – and your customers.
Start building the right “grow-up” plan for your business
Did you answer yes to many of the questions above? Then you’re well on your way to taking your business to the next phase of growth. Your business growth strategy should involve a constant reassessment of all operational aspects of the business, from day-to-day operations, to an expansion of marketing, market penetration, hiring and the staff skills needed to grow the business. With the right tools, technology, and most importantly people, your service-based business can not only survive, but thrive now and in the future.
Think your business is ready to grow? Check out “Growing Up Your Business,” a guide from small business owners on key decision points that set them up for success.
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