Growth is in the very DNA of entrepreneurs and their businesses. Once you’ve gone through the initial steps of setting up your company, establishing a customer base and experiencing success, you start planning for additional growth. However, one does not guarantee the other - even though initial success can enable you to expand, the fact that you’ve grown does not necessarily ensure further success. The key is to know what opportunities and challenges lie ahead and plan your expansion carefully.
While cost is the obvious aspect to consider, there is a whole host of more subtle, yet critical, issues to look at before you take the leap and scale up. Here are my top three:
Location, location, location
Nowadays, it seems inconceivable for a company not to have an online presence. Whether you sell your products and services to other companies or to consumers directly, you need to invest in an online platform that will keep you on the radar of potential customers anywhere, anytime. While the need for a digital outlet is more essential than ever, it has not spelled the end for brick and mortar. In fact, customers are increasingly seeking the best of both worlds throughout their purchasing journey. As an independent you should never underestimate the value of being able to physically interact with your customers in-store, giving them the opportunity to experience your brand’s personality. When coupled with a strong online offering, you’re on the way to hitting the omnichannel jackpot.
To really ramp up engagement, get creative. Expanding to both an online and an offline platform may no longer be enough. Differentiation is paramount if you want to get ahead of the competition. As such, you should consider what it is that makes your brand stand out and, where you can, add an experiential element to your online and offline platforms. This could mean anything from a competition on your website or social media to in-store events and pop-ups.
Customer loyalty is what keeps companies going. Bearing that in mind, it is essential to understand what makes you attractive to new customers as well as the aspects that keep people coming back. Once expansion is on the table, the challenge is to ensure you can maintain that brand identity and quality across the board. There are plenty of moving parts which make up your brand stand out, such as staff, design, location, service. It is imperative to set the right systems in place to manage all the pieces of your brand puzzle before you expand.
This also applies to your management style. As exciting as the prospect of scaling up might be, you need to ensure that your mindset adapts as your company grows. There are undoubtedly many benefits that come with being a lean team, including the ability to stay nimble, having control over all operations, or the opportunity to develop personal relationships with your staff and customers. But, as your business expands, you will find that you are no longer able to be involved in the nitty gritty of the day-to-day running of the company. The key is to learn to trust your staff and implement the correct systems to keep track of your business.
Choosing the right tech
Choosing technology that works for you and your business is necessary. The right system can act as a business assistant, providing you with the information you need to keep your company efficient and profitable. This is particularly important as you expand and find yourself needing to manage both an online platform as well as a brick and mortar location. Lightspeed’s omnichannel solution does just that: it seamlessly integrates your online and offline platforms into one powerful sales system, keeping track of stock numbers and producing invaluable data that allows you to continue providing the service your customers love. All of this is made available on a cloud-based system, so you can access the information you need from anywhere and at any time, ensuring you can safely manage your business while on the move.
If you are an entrepreneur looking to expand your company, make sure you look beyond the obvious aspects you need to address, such as the financials. While the apparent challenges may seem daunting at first, company growth is always exciting and if done in the right way, it can set you up for continuous future success.