Lately, your business has felt like those too-tight skinny jeans at the back of your closet. You feel like you’re going to bust at the seams, or that you might not be able to breathe if you start walking around. That what your business feels like too when it isn’t quite big enough to accommodate all the sales and expansion you’re experiencing. Could this mean that it’s time for a growth spurt? Here are some questions to consider to determine if you’re really ready to grow your small business.
Do You Have Processes and Systems in Place?
Growth requires heavy reliance on proven processes and systems. If you’ve been flying by the seat of your pants, making it up as you go along, you’ll want to slow your roll and spend some time defining those processes.
Where do you need processes?
- In executing your marketing efforts
- In managing your billing and accounting
- In hiring and training staff
Essentially any task that is completed over and over again would benefit from a defined process. All it takes is documenting them. Write out, step by step, what needs to happen to complete a task.
The idea is that once you grow and you’re not the one executing every task, your employees can read through the list and complete the task without your assistance.
How Much Money Does Growth Require?
Make no mistake about it: scaling your business will require funds. Whether you plan to hire additional staff to free you up to focus on strategy, you want to rent more office space, or you want to expand your product line, all of these require money.
Build out a budget to understand what your growth costs will be, as well as any ongoing increases in your monthly overhead. The idea is that growing your business will grow your revenues, which will help cover these ongoing costs, but you still need an understanding of your upfront cash outlay to cover these expenses to see if you can even afford the step up.
If you don’t yet have the funds to support growth, and you don’t want to take out a loan, make a plan to set aside a percent of your monthly profit with a game plan for when you’ll start to roll out your growth strategy. If you do decide to borrow money, a line of credit might be a good first step.
How Much Additional Staff Do You Need to Hire?
Few entrepreneurs are able to grow their small businesses without adding employees or consultants to the team. Spend some time assessing what roles and responsibilities you will need a dedicated employee to handle so that you can focus solely on your company’s growth.
Again, look at costs as well, as payroll expenses tend to be among the biggest expenses in a business. If you can only afford to hire part-time help, plan to scale slowly until revenues increase enough to justify full-time staff.
Will You Upsell to Your Existing Clients or Launch a New Product Line?
What does growth look like to your business? You essentially have two options: you can leverage your existing client base by working on upselling them additional products that you already offer (a customer buys a dress, so you market a necklace and handbag to go with that dress), or you can launch an entirely new product line.
The latter will require more energy and financial investment, but could prove to be the more lucrative option, so do your research to decide which is the best strategy for long-term growth.
What Additional Technology or Equipment Will You Need?
Business growth often means you need more computers, tools, or technology, otherwise you’ll struggle to meet demand as you rapidly scale. Get a plan for how you’ll pay for anything you need to invest in, and then find the best resource and vendor for what you need to buy. Remember that leased equipment or used equipment is always an affordable option.
Do You Have the Mental Bandwidth That Growth Requires?
Beyond finding the money, hiring new employees, and getting a game plan for your business growth, you really want to make sure you’re mentally and emotionally ready for such a big step in your business’ development.
Likely, growing your business will require you to spend more time at work, which will impact your ability to spend time with your loved ones. And if you have any other major life events happening, such as moving or having a baby, you might not want to add such a large responsibility to your plate right now.
It’s important that you understand exactly how much time commitment growing your business will demand, as well as how much brain space it will eat up. It’s essentially like starting your business all over again: you will devote a ton of time to planning and executing the growth plan, until the dust settles and you can find some equilibrium once your new team members are in place.
But ultimately, growing your business is a great opportunity to grow yourself. You’ll test your boundaries, learn more and find new successes for your company.