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Things to Consider Before Expanding Your Business

Every successful small business owner reaches a point where he or she has to determine a way to expand and grow. (It’s not a question of if, but only when and how.) With growth come new challenges, such as ensuring you have both a strategy and the resources to expand without sacrificing your current customer base or brand capital. By getting your creative juices flowing and practicing some due diligence, you can find ways to expand your business in 2013 and beyond.

Open in a new location.

Are there other geographic regions you’d like to explore, either within your community or elsewhere in the country? If you’re looking at another property, should you buy or lease? What kinds of offers are available from various commercial real estate companies in the areas you’re considering?

Explore new markets.

If your product or service is successful with your existing market, it’s likely there are other markets out there worth considering. Perhaps a greater market share is possible because your competition is “soft” in a certain area (either in a specific geographic region or because their product quality or customer service is lacking). Your offerings may be more attractive to that competitor’s customer base.

Develop a new product or service.

It may be time to design and develop an offering that’s either complementary to your existing products or services, or something entirely different. In either case, your loyal customer base is a fertile proving ground for testing something new and different.

Find a partner.

There are numerous potential benefits to seeking out a partner for growth. If you know of a business similar to yours that’s also looking to grow, an alliance can open up a new customer base for both parties. With a partner, there’s also the opportunity to expand your menu of offerings. This type of “joint venture” may include merging marketing lists, offering a “package deal” on both partners’ products or designing something entirely new.

Expand your online presence.

Social media offers a wealth of opportunities to expand your customer base and build your brand. But before diving in headfirst, be sure you fully understand what your goals are for expanding your presence on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. Do you want to drive visitors to your site to purchase your products? Do you want to establish yourself as a “thought leader” by providing tips and answers to readers’ questions? Drive them to your site to purchase your products or services? Determine how much resources you can commit to keeping your social media profile fresh and constantly changing.

Become a speaker or consultant.

You’re good at what you do and people know it—or you wouldn’t be running a successful business. Have you considered offering your expertise as a speaker or consultant? By choosing the right topic, you can start organizing speaking engagements and webinars that not only provide an additional revenue stream, but continue to build your small business brand. The same holds true for offering your know-how on a consultant basis.

Keep an eye on cash flow.

Depending on the nature of your business, all of these business-expanding strategies are worth pursuing. But remember, successful expansion can quickly drain existing funds and resources. When considering expansion options, diligent small business owners make sure they have access to different financing options, so they can stay ahead of demand for new equipment, supplies or payroll. It’s great to see your business expanding as long as you’ve planned and prepared for this happy outcome.

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