With the economy picking up again, lots of business owners are thinking about expansion. This is an excellent way to improve the health of your business and make it more stable over the long term, but the process of expansion itself can create vulnerabilities. How can you minimize these, and what do you need to know to do it successfully?
Planning for expansion
Although you may sometimes need to move quickly in order to take advantage of opportunities, expansion should never be a hasty process. There are many different aspects of the business that you’ll have to adjust to get them in sync with one another, so careful planning is essential. One of the most important factors is coordinating the timing of different changes, and this means accepting that things might not go smoothly, allowing for delays and developing contingency plans.
Looking at logistics
One of the most difficult aspects of expansion is adjusting logistical processes so that you receive adequate supplies and you can properly meet demand. Before expanding you will need to investigate the capacity of your current suppliers and source any necessary new ones. You’ll also need to look into issues such as freight (if you deliver) or the size of your premises (if you provide goods or services from fixed points). You’ll also need to make sure that your computer system is equipped to handle the increased complexity of your operations. Pay particular attention to databases, which are often limited in terms of the number of cases they can handle.
Finding the right people
The other major concern as you expand your business is finding the right people to join your team. Hiring too many people at once can make it difficult to maintain a socially stable workplace, putting existing staff members under stress, and there’s a risk that if you’re hiring in a rush then you won’t be able to find the best person for each job. One solution is to use an umbrella company to find temporary staff for some positions. You might even find that this is useful in the long term because it gives you the option of taking people on for just a few hours a week, or even a few hours a month, letting you fill gaps in your workforce without the expense of bringing in more full-time workers.
Building a strong team
No matter how carefully you approach it, expansion inevitably means that your staff will have to work harder for a while. To motivate them to get through this, and to help them connect effectively with new team members, it’s important to make them feel that they are going to benefit from what’s happening. The easiest way to do this is to describe the expansion as something that increases job security and has the potential to make everyone more successful. Don’t promise wage increases until your financial situation has stabilized and you know you can deliver. Instead, take the time to chat to employees personally and make them feel valued.
Expansion always presents a challenge, but if you pull it off well, it’s something that can benefit everyone far into the future.