You’ve been doing this business for a while. You’ve got a decent amount of enquiries coming in, you’re converting most if not all of those to sales, and you’re feeling like this business is going gang busters. Only problem here is, there’s only one of you and only so much space, so you’re starting to think it’s time to expand the business. You’re worried that turning away all those orders is going to be bad for your reputation but you can’t possibly take any more work on. Maybe you’re ready to hire a helper or you’re ready to find a bigger space to work from.
Here’s some things to consider when you’re feeling like it’s time to upsize your business:
- Are your prices too low? A lot of times we’re taking on a ton of orders and working a bunch of hours because our prices are too low and our customers know they’re onto a good thing. If you’re converting 80-100% of your enquiries to sales, that means there’s room for your prices to increase. Yes, this might mean you lose a few orders initially, but you’ll be making that money up because the ones you’ve got are worth more. So step one – check your prices. Usually raising your prices (I recommend about 10-20% to begin with) starts to relieve the pressure of turning away a lot of orders.
- Get real about what it is you need to change. What is the issue here, really? Is it: a) you just don’t have enough space or hours in the day to take on more work, or b) you’ve always wanted to grow the business as part of your overall business growth plan. If your answer is c) I’m just super popular on Instagram and all these people are begging me to open a store…well, that’s not really a fabulous reason to take on added responsibilities. Taking on more (work, help, financial demands) is something that should be done with careful consideration for your resources and your desires for this business overall. Your IG followers might want a store front, but do YOU want one? Take the time to drill down and figure out the CORE PROBLEM.
- If the issue is one of needing more space or help: brainstorm more than one solution to this problem. Don’t assume the next step is moving to a storefront or rented premises. You might LOVE working from home or wherever you are, and you don’t want to move out. If that’s the case – come up with other options. You can do things like buy a bigger fridge, clean out the spare room, hire some part time help. Go and do the numbers on those options and make sure you can afford them or you can create a PLAN to afford them. At first, that employee will cost more than she/he is earning for you – but eventually it should be that her presence frees your business up to take more orders and give you time to work on other things.
- If it’s just time for the business to “grow up” and move out of home (and that was your aim all along), start gathering information. How much does commercial rental space cost in your area? What will you need to fit out the place? Do you have any money to invest? I find a lot of people really WANT to expand but are not prepared for the financial realities of what expansion really means. DO THE NUMBERS on what this means.
- Once you know the numbers and you still think it’s time to take that leap: stop for a second and think about how your current business fits into your lifestyle. Moving locations means more of everything – more orders (which is the whole point) but also more hours you need to be there. A bigger freezer or an employee isn’t as much of a jump but it will also increase your workload to a degree because it means you’re more able to take on more work.
And lastly…. TAKE ACTION to fix that core problem. Overwhelm, exhaustion and getting burned out are all signs of someone who has been dealing with a difficult problem for way too long. It’s not enough to find the problem, you’ve then got to take action to resolve or relieve the problem.
The right time to expand your business will be different for each person. Some people have no desire to expand at all, while others have dreams of building empires. Whatever your expansion plans are – make sure you go into them with an open mind, a brave heart, plenty of knowledge about the numbers and a solid foundation of understanding how this expansion fits in with your overall business and life plans and goals.