If you’re running a small business and you’ve got over the initial tricky few months you should be thinking about expanding. If you sit still, you’ll fall behind: you need to be running just to stay in one place.
If you’re stuck in one location, providing one main product or service, you’re at risk of failing if a big competitor moves to the area, or your costs increase. Diversifying either your location or offering (or both!) means you’re better equipped to weather tough times and come out on top.
Firstly, you need to make sure the time is right for expansion. Talk to investors and experts in your professional network and set some objective tests you can subject your business to, to make sure you’re not overextending yourself. Examples include reaching a target level of revenue for three months in a row, or trials with a new product or service.
It’s important to conduct research as well. If you’re looking at opening a new location try to ensure there is actually an existing market around your new location that can make it a successful, profitable venture.
Once you’ve established that your business is match fit, and there’s a willing crowd of people just waiting for your services in a nearby location, you can begin to plan for your expansion. You’ll be familiar with the process of finding a good premises from opening your first branch, so this time you need to learn how to create demand.
Approach local businesses to discuss reciprocal marketing efforts. They may be able to display publicity for you, like posters, flyers and business cards. If you establish a good rapport you could even propose a scheme to refer customers to each other. If you can create a good working relationship with existing local businesses it will help to overcome any initial resistance where you’re seen as a ‘new in town’ or an ‘interloper’.
Finally, the day of the move itself will arrive. It’s worth finding a good removal company or even a storage firm. Some London storage companies will also pick up and deliver your stored items, so you gradually build up the supplies you need in storage and then have the company step into a new role as a removal firm, killing two birds with one stone.
With good preparation and planning, you’ll be established in your new location in no time and soon thinking about your next leap forward.