Business expansion is a tricky thing for entrepreneurs and leaders to handle. Many variables come into play while you’re thinking about the next move you want your business to make. There’s the tedious work of crunching numbers to make sure expanding is a viable option. There’s the legwork of finding the right locations, the right people, and the right resources. Most importantly, a tremendous amount of energy is required to take on these tasks, while still maintaining your current duties.
Sound stressful? As you take on the challenge of elevating your company to the next level, here are a few things it helps to know:
Your Brand Is as Strong as Your Employees Make It
Quality of service is the most important aspect of our business, which is why my company maintains the highest standards for our employees. Simply put, our brand is only as good as the quality of tutors we contract and the level of service our directors provide. We continually analyze our marketing message – through our website and other channels – in order to maintain our core image: premier private tutoring services. Sticking to our fundamental belief that we should only recruit the best talent allows us to stay ahead of the competition. Every company should have one central brand message to drive the rest of their decisions.
Keep the Process Smooth for Employees and Clients
We formalize policies and procedures in order for our employees and our clients to understand how the process will work from step one through the end of the contract. Our paperless mindset compels us to think digitally and efficiently, making it easier to monitor work, and revise as necessary. By doing this, companies can actively push information to employees in order to address issues before they become crises. In addition, constant communication internally via phone and e-mail is vital to maintaining a quality brand. Our company records all the data that we can capture and quantifies everything; metrics lead to insights, insights lead to improvements, and improvements lead to happy clients.
When’s the “Right Time” to Expand?
Positive cash flow and a replicable model are crucial to your business’ expansion. You have to have operational funding in order to grow beyond your current footprint. Before you start spending that cash, you should have a solid plan of how it will be spent. Putting money into something that isn’t quite fruitful yet may cripple what you’ve already built. Furthermore, you must be able to mirror the image that you’ve created.
Just because our business model worked in the Midwest, there was no a guarantee it would translate to other geographic locations. Would our programs for SAT tutoring in New York City be as well received as they had been in other cities? We had to have a team that was ready for larger-scale work, and able to train the right talent.
If there are any choke points, you should refrain from expanding. Otherwise, this could lead to congestion, and eventually halt the entire process. You’re already spending valuable resources on expansion; don’t burn any more precious cash by running headlong into detrimental situations.
Here are four key things to keep in mind:
1. Be ready for more work. You will spend a lot of time expanding to new locations, but you can’t forget about the workhorse that got you there in the first place. As head of the company, it’s your job to execute the expansion process while maintaining the current functions of your business.
2. Monitor quality on an ongoing basis. Anything that isn’t monitored tends to fall apart. I don’t micromanage every aspect of my company – that’s why I hired the best directors. However, monitoring the overall flow of the company enables me to see the path we’re on from a bird’s-eye view, allowing me to redirect as needed.
3. Be prepared for setbacks. If you were wrong about something, be willing to admit it. Admitting your mistakes is the first step toward improving your business; it allows for meaningful dialogue moving forward. Perhaps only one out of four ideas work, but that one idea can have a significantly positive impact, so keep striving for progress.
4. Have talent that shares your view of expansion. This circles back to only recruiting and hiring the best in the business. If you have people who are satisfied with the status quo, it might be time to reevaluate their roles in your company. In the hiring process, look for those who show ambition.
Ambition is the main ingredient for growth. When undergoing expansion, you need the motivational drive to keep going forward. A key to actually making it work is developing the right team around you. Quality of service begins and ends with you, but it weaves itself through every person you hire. If everyone is willing and able to take your company to another level, you can successfully get there.
Nice article, Chuck. So many people forget that success, when not properly handled can be a company’s downfall. The things that you can “get away with” when you are smaller, like loose processes, become major brand killers with expansion.