So, you’ve carried out your market research, read all there is to know about starting a business and you’ve successfully managed to lay down the bricks and mortar of your company. Things are starting to look rosy, and you’re probably thinking about marching boldly towards that nine-letter word looming on the horizon – expansion!
Well it’s not all plain sailing from here, I’m afraid. There will be plenty of pitfalls to avoid on that road to growth, and you’ll need to invest blood, sweat and tears all over again if you’re going to make any decent kind of headway. So if you’re ready to get out your maps and plan the route ahead, let’s get started with some of the key things to consider when taking your business forward…
Get Your Business Online
If you haven’t done this already, this should be number 1 on your to-do list. With so many people in the modern age searching for products and services online before they buy them, not having a website to advertise your own brand would be tantamount to business failure.
There are plenty of free tools on the web to help you get started – such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal – which require no technical knowledge to set up, and could have your business online within a matter of minutes.
Of course, if you want to make a great first - and lasting - impression to your online customers, you’ll probably want to hire an experienced web designer to help get you up and running. A well designed site with great content can project your company as a leading authority in your field, so it’s important to plan this step carefully to maximise the benefits you’ll see.
Spread the Word
With all of its free social and marketing tools, the internet is like a virtual playground for any start-up business, and – the great part is – it’s a level playing field, no matter how small your company! Get yourself on Twitter and create a Facebook page for your business – apart from anything else, they make great customer communication portals, and provide a friendly face to your company.
Get involved with online discussions relating to your area of expertise and, when appropriate, direct potential customers to your new-fangled website. That doesn’t mean arm yourself with a sentence or two of marketing spiel and spam your way through the internet one forum at a time, but rather take the time to engage with your customer base.
Consider writing a blog about updates in your industry, new products or simply company news – it’s a great way to attract people to your website, and an even better way to get yourself noticed in all the major search engines like Google and Bing!
Form Partnerships with Complimentary Businesses
Hooking up with a complimentary business is a great way to cast your net over a new –and potentially very responsive – customer pool. But not only could you benefit from joint marketing ventures and customer-sharing by buddying up with like-minded companies, you’ll also be able to draw on each other’s experience and mistakes, making the path ahead of you much smoother.
The key to this step is finding the right businesses to form partnerships with – an online, luxury, women’s clothing store may not be able to offer much to a sports website, for example, but it may be of some interest to a local beauty spa!
Finally, it’s always important when you’re looking to expand as a business that you’re shrewd about your hiring, to ensure you land only the most innovative and hard-working prospects out there. Too many times a company struggles to find the right employees by not planning this step properly, and failing to draw in the talent.
If you’re serious about taking your business forward then you’ll want the right team of people working around you. For more information on how to attract the best talent for your company, see our article on how to write the perfect job advert.
Expanding Your Small Business