When you’re out of the difficult set up period of your business it’s natural to want to expand, and often a healthy idea. All too often, standing still is falling behind, and you have to move quickly to keep pace with a changing market. Expanding your business, whether into a new bricks and mortar location, offering a wider range of services or products or simply serving a wider radius gives you a safety net if the market for your original falls through.
Expansion can eat up costs, however, and if you overextend on your plans you may find your business in trouble. Here are few tips to make your plans for the future as efficient and trouble as free possible.
Test the Waters
If you’re planning on opening a fresh branch in a new location, make sure you do your research to make sure the market exists for you. This could be as simple as polling your existing customers to see where they’re coming from: if there’s a significant fraction from a nearby town, that indicates an untapped market that’s ripe for you to move into.
You could also get involved with events in your prospective new area: operating a stall at school fairs and other local events for example don’t just help you assess the demand for your services in the neighbourhood but also begins to help locals recognise your brand and establish contacts with other businesses in the area.
Think Tactically with Promotion
You need to promote an expansion in your business, of course, to create awareness in the community of the new business and establish a pool of loyal repeat customers. This doesn’t have to take up a lot of your resources, however. As a small business it’s often better to think hard and make small, tactical moves with promotion than pour a lot of money into it.
Examples include reciprocal referral schemes with local business: this helps to build up footfall and establish goodwill with other businesses.
Check Your Contracts
When you’re taking on new premises or signing up new members of staff, it’s worth having a contract lawyer look over the agreements to make sure they are really delivering the services you need, that you won’t be stuck with unexpected penalties and that you have the necessary clauses to break the contract if it doesn’t deliver to the agreed standard.
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