3 Signs It's Time to Expand Your Small Business
Finding the middle ground: Expand too soon, and you’re underwater, while a too-late expansion can result in missed opportunity
While it might seem like today’s market is dominated by the Amazons and Facebooks of the world, the reality is actually quite the opposite. A whopping 99.7 percent of all businesses in the United States are considered “small,” totaling 28.8 million organizations with less than 100 employees.
Most entrepreneurs are thinking of ways to grow their businesses, no matter the size. It’s easy to daydream about an expansion and all that comes with it – a bigger company footprint, enhanced brand recognition, more happy customers and additional income – but it can be difficult to identify when a business is actually ready to grow.
Small businesses often plateau, feeling overwhelmed at their capacity but fraught with hesitation when it comes to taking the next step. Expand too soon, and you’re almost instantly underwater, while a too-late expansion can result in missed opportunity. Even if you’ve established a major local stronghold, taking your business to the national level is a completely different animal.
Through many late-night, coffee-fueled internal discussions and debates, here are some insights into what factors determine whether or not an organization should expand.
1. YOU’VE GOT A DREAM TEAM
Whether your dream team is made up of two people or 20, the question you should ask yourself is the same: Are the right people in place to drive and support growth? This runs the gamut, from the leadership team to entry-level employees. When it comes to a seamless expansion, everyone has an important role to play. Remember your team includes any external partners and vendors, so choose wisely.
Further, an organization with an effective and inspirational leader will be better positioned to tackle internal challenges and turn ideas into reality. After all, there are many companies that have the same business model. It’s those with the right teams that are the most successful.
2. YOU’VE FOUND A SOLUTION FOR A WIDESPREAD PROBLEM
Some organizations might fill an uncharted void locally, but it’s those that tap into a national need that are ripe for expansion. Additionally, establishing a business in a high-growth industry provides more opportunity for customers to realize they need to buy what you’re selling.
When we first launched Fluid Market, we knew the age-old question: “Can I borrow your truck?” was one that transcended geographic boundaries. Denver served as a first market, but the team was confident our product was a necessary solution to a problem only addressed by major players. Lucky for us, the sharing economy and ‘side hustles’ became a daily part mainstream life, lending to sustained interest and demand for Fluid Market.
3. YOU’VE GOT MORE WORK THAN YOU CAN MANAGE
Know that awesome team I talked about earlier? Have they mentioned feeling overwhelmed lately? Your organization might just need a larger workspace or more employees, but if your entire team is continually working with full plates, it might be time to think through an expansion.
Although expanding nationally or globally won’t necessarily lessen customer demand or decrease employees’ workloads (in fact, it will probably do the opposite), an expansion often requires a second location or satellite office, new team members and more processes in place to tackle the burgeoning business.
These considerations, among many others, are crucial to think through if an expansion is on your radar. If you’ve checked off three for three, congratulations! If you haven’t, don’t worry - good things take time.
James Eberhard is the founder and CEO of Fluid Market, a truck sharing app that allows people to easily and securely list, discover, and rent trucks to and from one another. He spearheaded the launch of Fluid Market’s truck-sharing marketplace in February 2018, capitalizing on consumers’ steady demand for trucks and utility vehicles. Eberhard is regarded as an expert on global wireless markets and has extensive experience leading start-up technology and mobile companies. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.