Taking your business into the big time
Business growth and expansion have to be carefully planned. A second or third regional or district office can’t be opened just like that, nor can the product line be increased at the drop of a hat one fine morning. Various factors have to be carefully considered beforehand, including logistical, financial, physical and even emotional ones.
The general rule is that expansion should only be under consideration when untapped opportunities are out there that can directly benefit the business, such as a location that competitors have not yet serviced or a tempting niche market that can be captured.
In cleaning and restoration, as in other lines of business, good management is an essential precondition to expansion. This will direct and control steady and logical growth and preclude the spiral into chaos and disunity, which often results from the absence of a steady hand at the helm.
Information about competitors can provide a leading edge by highlighting particular benefits of a business and how they can benefit the customer. If competitors are expanding, they may have discovered untapped opportunities or happened on an innovative new idea. The choice then is either to follow their lead or to watch developments and assess the ensuing benefits and risks.
The financial benefits of business expansion also need to be carefully considered, in terms of cash flow and additional inventory, and the costs of new equipment and facilities. A fat established bottom line of demand for services and products will prove that expansion is then a viable and desirable option.
When making the decision to expand, after exhaustive research and consultation, timing becomes a crucial issue. A downturn in the economy, for example, may well reduce demand for a particular product, because if people are spending less then certain products or services may become effectively redundant. The business environment needs to be able to support expansion.
Using investment management services
Specialist investment services such as those provided by Pete Briger of Fortress Investment Group can bring much-needed niche knowledge and skills sets to companies, which are seriously considering expansion. These include managing economies of scale by advising on matters such as resources and loans, premises, equipment, business plans and staffing. Consulting an experienced investment manager is the best way to minimize the risk of expanding your business.
Compromising the original vision?
A business expansion plan that carries the company some way from its original vision may also have repercussions. In cleaning and restoration, for example, creativity and specialization may become unintentionally compromised as attention is increasingly focused on the logistics of expansion.
Growth, in short, might force the enthusiastic core team that started the business to have to let go of some of the hands-on operation that motivated them in the first place. Relinquishing total control often proves to be an adjustment too far, particularly in specialist restoration firms.
All businesses ultimately rely on the quality of staff for their success, even those that make most use of technology and automated processing. As a firm’s most important asset, it is incumbent on the directors to ensure that the right talent and personnel are in place to enable expansion to succeed. Often it may be necessary to temporarily bring in contract workers to deal with specific growth challenges, with for example foreign language skills if expansion into foreign markets is involved. Using freelancers for short-term projects often makes cost-effective sense.
Clear goals and objectives derived from these considerations need to be clearly borne in mind before and during the expansion process. Keeping the target in mind will make it easier to identify the infrastructure and systems needed, and to drive motivation during shortfall periods.