Getting a startup off the ground is a considerable and rewarding achievement. But once a business has achieved a certain level of success, business owners often find themselves wondering what to do next.
Growing a business may not prove as challenging as turning it from a startup into a successful enterprise, but business owners often agonize over the best way to grow their businesses. The following are a few ideas to grow your business so you can build on your initial success.
* Open a new location. Physical expansion is often the first idea that comes into business owners' minds when they are thinking about how to grow their businesses. But physical expansion is not always the best way to grow a business. Before deciding to open a second location, consider consumer trends to determine if your company has staying power, and economic trends to determine if the economy is healthy enough to support both your initial location and any additional locations you plan to open.
Another thing to consider before opening a new location is your management style. If that style is very hands-on, then who will manage your new location, or your existing one if you plan to oversee things at the new store? Physical expansion can be good for business, but it's often most successful when business owners have a solid management team already in place, which allows owners to spend time at both locations.
* Diversify your offerings. The Small Business Administration notes that diversifying is a strong growth strategy, providing multiple streams of income that can help business owners survive the slower months when sales tend to dip. Businesses known for a particular product may want to offer complementary products or services or import or export others' products. Startups often credit loyal customer bases when citing their reasons for surviving their first few years, and such customer bases already trust your brand. Expanding that brand to include complementary products or services is a logical next step to grow your business and build on the credibility you worked so hard to achieve with your customer base.
* Develop an app. Many of today's successful startups had Web sites even before they opened the doors to their more traditional brick-and-mortar stores. While a strong Web presence is essential for many of today's businesses, business owners can now go one step further and create their own smartphone or tablet app. Such apps can allow customers to peruse your offerings, place orders on-the-go and perform a host of other tasks related to your business without using a computer. An app can introduce your business to a whole new crop of potential customers, whether they live around the corner from your store or halfway around the globe. Upon introducing the app, expect some technical glitches and solicit user responses so you can quickly update the app and make it more user-friendly if need be.
* Form an alliance with other businesses. Rather than diversifying their product offerings, some business owners have found it's easier and more profitable to form an alliance with other businesses who already sell complementary products. Such an alliance can be good for both businesses, as each can expand its customer base without the kind of effort it takes to open a new location or the cost of producing new products. Other businesses already have lists of prospective customers who may need your products, and vice versa. Alliances can be the most effective and quickest ways to grow a business, not to mention the least expensive and time-consuming.