10 Tell-Tale Signs That Your Business Is Ready for Expansion

  • By Susan Burns
  • 24 Mar, 2016
When you start a business, it’s natural to dream about how far your big idea could grow. And when your business starts to grow and generate profit, expansion is frequently what comes to mind.

For a lucrative company, most people think it is advisable to expand. But, is it? Not always -- and certainly not in the same way as other companies have. Sometimes, when a company expands too quickly or too early without being ready for it, the strategy causes a lot of damage, even to the point of failure of a previously profitable .

Your expansion plans would benefit from being analyzed by an experienced business strategist , and here are some key telltale signs that yes, your business is ready for the next step.

1. You’ve found your Dream Team

A good team is the backbone of your expansion plans. While in the process of expansion, you will take a secondary role in the day-to-day operations your company. You, as the CEO, will have to take care of the strategic decisions, and not so much of the daily minutiae. Having a good team already in place means you can step back and take care of the business growth plans and backend strategy, knowing that the rest of the company is in good hands, and well taken care of.  

2. Your company has a steadily growing and loyal customer base 

Another sign that your company is ready to expand is the increasing demand for your products or services. Your business has become a well-known name, with lots of repeat customers, who are happy to keep buying from you. And to be honest, it’s getting kind of hard to keep up with the demand.  

3. You’ve done a thorough analysis  

It’s not enough to “feel” it’s time for your company to grow. You need to do your research. Analyze your customers and your competition. Do this before moving forward with your plans. This analysis can also help you attract potential investors because it shows you’re making a decision based on data, and not just trusting your gut. As in other stages of your business cycle, a SWOT analysis is a good tool to clearly define the growth strategy you want to follow.  

4. You’ve met previous goals 

By examining your original business plan, you’ll be able to tell not only if your objectives have been reached, but also the timeframe in which they were met. By showing your business can, and has met or exceeded previous goals, your investors, your employees, and even you will be more confident that the company can meet expansion objectives.  

5. You’re not a “seasonal success” 

If your company has been in business for a couple of years, that means your growth is not temporary, produced by a shift in the economy, or based on a novelty factor that may wear off at any minute. And, even more important, your revenue has been growing consistently regardless of the ups and downs of the economy.  

6. You’re starting to  struggle to keep your pace 

Another element to think about is how you’re able to fulfill your customer’s expectations . Maybe you are having to turn away customers, or your employees struggle to provide a good service, because of the increase in sales. It seems you’re working around the clock just to keep up with the demand, and you even stopped looking for new clients a while ago. This is good because it shows your company is doing something right, but it also means you’re ready for the next step, because otherwise your company – and your bottom line -- will start suffering.  

7. Your industry or market is expanding 

A company that serves a market in expansion, and that is part of a thriving industry, has high potential for successful scale-up. You must not only analyze your industry, but also your chances to adapt and evolve when necessary. The former giant of rental video, Blockbuster, serves as a sad example of a company unable to adapt to new technologies, hanging on until it disappeared from the market entirely.  

If you’re catering to a growing market, the odds are in your favor. The Asian and Latin American market are currently on the rise, so if your company is aiming to those markets, your expansion plans may be just the right move.  

8. You have the necessary cash flow 

Whether you bring new investors on board, or you fund this business endeavor yourself, you need to have cash readily available to grow your business. You’ll need to invest in additional resources, whether that be employees, raw materials, new machines, or more efficient distribution channels, and you need to be prepared to deal with some rough months before you’re able to see a return on your investment.  

Make sure you have a healthy balance sheet.  

9. Your business has the right systems and processes in place

Your business is about to become harder to manage, and if you don’t have clear systems and procedures already in place, things may get completely out of control. Systematize everything, from the first contact of a potential client, to your collections procedure. Create a procedures manual, and make sure it’s followed throughout your company. Take advantage of legal as your silent business partner and streamline your processes.  

10. You can handle the extra workload

Expansion efforts can take a toll on your health, increase your stress levels, and impact your life in general. You will have to work extra hours, be on top of everything, deal with new suppliers, clients, and distributors, solve any situations that may occur due to an increased production, and so on. This is why it’s vital for you to have an outstanding team you can lean on, before starting your expansion plans. But even having excellent collaborators, you will be the one in charge of everything. Be honest with yourself, and decide if you are able to focus your energy on such project at this moment of your life. And make sure you have a workable self-care plan that you can stick to. 
 
Scaling up your business may be the natural course of the business life cycle, but it has to be done at the right time, and in the right way. Consider your options, analyze the most profitable and safe path, or contact a business strategist to help you analyze and assemble the best expansion strategy, and you’ll be on your way to financial and professional success.

And, sometimes it's okay to stay small.


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More Posts from Susan's Blog

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By Susan Burns 26 Oct, 2017
P.S. There has been a lot of discussion on social media about my post on reading fine print  when installing apps, specifically focused on the Grammarly app. Some people have responded with the interpretation that Grammarly can only use your content to correct your grammar and not for anything else.

I disagree. This is not a correct interpretation, in my opinion.

Even though that interpretation may be based on a provision in the TOS that states you keep ownership of
your content, they still have an unlimited, perpetual, royalty-free right to use it. I won’t repeat the prior
post, but do urge you to read it .

Others have suggested that Grammarly’s TOS are typical of SaaS (software as a service) agreements and,
somehow, that makes it okay. The TOS may be similar, but the products aren’t. Grammarly, in my
experience, crawls through everything you type. Everything.

The other argument proposed by someone is that because this is typical SaaS language, they don’t really
mean that they are going to use your content. Really? Then say so in a clearly-drafted, user-friendly
contract a/k/a TOS.

I have not heard of someone successfully arguing in court that even though they agreed to a license of
their product, they didn’t think the person was really going to use it … and therefore, they shouldn’t be
allowed to use it. If you know of such a case, send it my way.

Again, legal ethics prohibit me from using the service. That aside, I don’t choose to give Grammarly
access to everything I type.

As one person put it, “everything ever typed on the computer, so while it runs in the background, it
gathers password, credit card data, shopping habits, text conversations from Facebook, messenger
services, anything you do... recorded and stored.”

Finally, my posts are my opinion and my legal analysis. I am not your lawyer. And, I am not telling you
what to do.

One of my major focus points with clients is clarity. Fabulous decisions come from clarity. Make a
decision that’s right for you.

I love a great discussion! Keep the comments coming.

MSB
By Susan Burns 24 Oct, 2017

Recently I was engaged in a Facebook exchange among a group of successful business women. Someone asked for opinions on using Grammarly—an app that is marketed as “A FREE, ACCURATE GRAMMAR CHECKER BUILT FOR EVERYONE.”  

The comments started rolling in: “love it!” “best thing I have used in a long time.” “Cuts my writing time significantly.” And more like that.

I actually had installed the free app a few weeks before to give it a test run. I found it to be a nuisance because that little app was popping up and sticking its grammar-nose in every single thing I wrote. My emails. My blog posts. My word documents. That spelled danger to me, and I immediately deleted it.

My curiosity piqued, I checked the Terms of Service (which, admittedly, I should have done first). Here is what I found:

By uploading or entering any User Content, you give Grammarly (and those it works with) a nonexclusive, worldwide, royalty-free and fully-paid, transferable and sublicensable, perpetual, and irrevocable license to copy, store and use your User Content (and, if you are an Authorized User, your Enterprise Subscriber’s User Content) in connection with the provision of the Software and the Services and to improve the algorithms underlying the Software and the Services. (emphasis added)

Here's what you need to know:

  • Grammarly, Inc. is a Delaware corporation. They include in the definition of “Grammarly” not only the corporation, but also all of its subsidiaries AND other affiliates.
  • The definition of “Software” is “the software.
  • The definition of “Services” is … wait for it … “services.” 
  • And, although it is poorly drafted, it seems to be attempting to include any future Software and Services provided by Grammarly, which you recall also means any subsidiary or affiliate.

What does this mean for you?

It means that if you install Grammarly, whether it’s a free service or a paid service, you are specifically giving an unlimited perpetual license to your content to Grammarly and any company they affiliate with and any of their subsidiaries basically for any service they provide now and decide to use in the future.

That means that if you use Grammarly, instead of your own brain or a copy editor, you are no longer the exclusive owner of your content. That means they can republish, provide to third party affiliates, and use your data and materials any way they see fit.

The bottom line is that Grammarly has access to—and the unlimited, forever—right to use your content. Period.

And, once you install Grammarly, it is everywhere . It pops up in every document you create. Every. Single. One. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.

Of course, lawyers and other professionals with a confidentiality responsibility to their clients are ethically prohibited from using Grammarly. (And, I hope they read the fine print.) But even if you don’t have an ethical responsibility to keep information confidential, do you really want to give up the right to your content?

Think about it! And next time, read the fine print. … or call me, and I’ll read it for you.


​*This post has been updated here .

By Susan Burns 28 Feb, 2017

The driverless car industry is hot and super-competitive. That’s a given. Here’s what’s not hot if you are Waymo, the self-driving car business that was spun out of Google’s parent company:

By Susan Burns 19 Feb, 2017

Recently, there was a trademark spat between Adidas and Tesla. The story piqued my interest because   the big players make mistakes that are instructive for small businesses (only on a grander scale)—and because it illustrates the importance of brand identity and underscores why it’s smart to register your mark.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened: Tesla filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to register its Model 3, three-bar logo as a trademark. If the registration had been for the purpose of using the mark on a car, there would not have been a problem. BUT, Tesla registered to use its three-bar “E” on clothing. Adidas, a company known for rigorous policing of its brand identity, challenged Tesla’s right to register the mark as confusingly similar to the Adidas three-bar logo. Tesla withdrew its application. Adidas protected its three-bar brand identity.
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