Taking that leap and starting your business was equal parts terrifying and exciting. But you did your research, made your plans and put in the work. Today, your customer base is loyal and profitable and your industry continues to trend in a positive direction.
Sure, you could relax and enjoy the success. After all, you’ve earned it. But if you’re ready to take another leap and expand what you’ve built, consider one or more of these strategies.
_For the sake of brevity, we’re using “product” to describe physical items and services throughout this post. _
Find new customers to serve
When you first started, you targeted a demographic that fit your products. Maybe you opened up a yoga studio catering to women under 40 or started an accounting firm marketed toward freelancers and small businesses.
But there’s probably an untapped demographic out there that, with a few tweaks to your current product, you can reel in. That yoga studio might develop a class for cross-fitters looking to stretch out sore muscles. And the accounting firm could put together a debt reduction course for young families.
Find new possibilities by researching your competitors and your industry. Look for underserved demographics or a group likely to convert with a few tweaks to your product and/or marketing plan.
Hire freelancers to take on more work
Successful freelancers hit a wall at some point—there’s only so much work one person can do. When you find yourself routinely turning down projects because you don’t have time, start subbing out work to other freelancers.
Over time, you’ll probably find yourself going back to the same few people for help. At that point, if your business is still trending upward and the numbers make sense, consider hiring your first employee.
Expand your offerings
Coming out with new products keeps customers excited about your company. Talk with your current clients and customers and research your industry to find ideas for new offerings that your current base needs or wants. A graphic artist might discover that the clients he designs logos for also need brochures developed for trade shows. And a restaurant owner in a town lacking Grubhub or Uber Eats might start a delivery service.
Team up with another business
Cross-promotions (read all about them here) expose you to new customers. But, developing an alliance with another company is a lot more than doing an event with someone else, guest posting on a blog or teaming up with influencers for a campaign.
Let’s say you run a local bakery. You’re doing well, are active in your chamber of commerce and community, and regularly cross-promote with other local businesses. The results of your efforts are a steady stream of customers through the door and comfortable, flour-covered success.
But think bigger. What if you teamed up with your local grocery store to have two or three of your famous cookies sold in their bakery department? Or worked with local restaurants to provide fresh pies for their dessert menus?
Nearly anyone can benefit from creating an alliance with a noncompeting, complementary business. A freelance writer might team up with a web design company to create ready-to-go websites. Or, a photographer could join forces with a caterer to develop wedding packages.
Franchise your business
Franchising doesn’t work for everyone—you need a thriving business as well as a workable system to ensure other people can replicate your success. But with those two pieces in place, the possibilities are endless.
This undertaking requires stringent planning and research. Once you have a rough plan in place, hire a franchise attorney before moving forward. This is one expansion strategy where DIYing isn’t a great idea.
The business world is trending toward global availability. If you have the right product, exporting could be your next step. Start by finding an international market that you believe you can serve. Then, reach out to the chamber of commerce in that country and trade groups in your industry to find potential distributors.
Plan to adjust your marketing and possibly make a few tweaks to your product to successfully extend into foreign markets. You can’t effectively target the 20 to 35 group in Japan in the same way you have the 20 to 35 group in the United States.
**Deciding to expand your business involves taking a risk, especially when it comes to finances. Before you make any dramatic changes or decisions, do your research, consult with an attorney and talk to a small business financial adviser. Be as calculated with expanding as you were with starting your business and enjoy the challenge of stepping outside of your comfort zone all over again. **
Biz.me is not affiliated with or endorsing any business or product discussed or linked to in this post. We just like sharing great content.🙂