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Looking to grow your business? Some tips for safe business expansion

As your start-up business develops, your thoughts may turn to expansion. This can be a scary prospect. It will mean your business enlarging, spreading its wings further afield, and venturing into new markets. It will almost certainly mean you can’t do everything all on your own, and you will need to get familiar with more than just the daily running of your business.

How you choose to expand your business is down to you and what you do. Some businesses benefit from small steps, while others necessitate an all-or-nothing approach. This may depend on available resources, unknown markets, pressure from your competition, and availability of key workers. However you choose to grow your business, it can be an overwhelming process, so here are some tips for safe business expansion.

  1. People
    You need to make sure your current employees, if you have any, are on board with your expansion, and that they have the requisite skills to help develop a larger company. More of your own time will be taken with the business end of the expansion, so you need to have people around you who can pick up the day-to-day running of your operation with less supervision. You may find it helpful to take some time to re-train your key staff. Ask them what skills they think they are lacking, and find ways of equipping your staff with the skills they will need to run a larger company. It may be that you have to shed staff who are unable to meet new demands, and that you have to hire a whole bunch of new people. In any case, a course in team development techniques or similar, will help old and new staff gel faster, creating the team you need behind you in your push for business expansion.
  2. Finance
    Business expansion usually means investment. If you are able to source this finance yourself, through accrued profits, or by taking out a business loan, then great. You may want to consider using a business angel to find the cash, or even look at crowd-funding. Crowd-funding is where lots of people each give a small amount of cash in return for a special deal once you’re up and running. Many successful businesses have been set-up or expanded this way and it is increasingly popular as it gives freedom from banks.
  3. Time
    Expanding a business takes a lot of your time and effort. Make sure you take some downtime to give yourself some important headspace. Delegate what you can to your trusty team, and concentrate on those tasks that only you can do. Hire a consultant if you find your time is tight, but most importantly; don’t put unrealistic deadlines on yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
  4. External help
    Look at getting specialist business expansion assistance, such as that provided by the government’s Growth Accelerator scheme. This scheme provides business mentoring, and access to finance which is targeted at small businesses looking to expand. Ask your local business advice centre about eligibility for this and similar schemes that may suit.

Business expansion can be a rapid, or slow process. It will be full of highs and lows, and will mean some shifts in the way you operate and a sea-change in your own managerial role. However you choose to expand, it needs to be built on the solid foundations you’ve already established. Get each step right and you’ll be taking over the world very soon.

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