Realising that you’re ready to expand your small business is an exciting time, but can be stressful too. While you’re getting more business than ever before, you may also be struggling to keep up with the demands of your new customer base. You ideally want to grow organically and gradually, ensuring that you’re not taking on more work than you can handle, and that you haven’t forgotten any important details that could cause issues later down the line. Here are four of the key considerations to bear in mind during this all-important period for your business.
While the goal of your business is to be increasing sales as quickly as you can, this brings about logistical challenges, such as finding somewhere to store your stock and supplies, and determining the best way to get orders to your customers. You will need to be able to deliver your goods in a way that’s financially viable, quick, and convenient, which can encourage repeat business as well as word of mouth marketing. You may opt to rely on a warehouse and fulfilment service, which can take over all of the receipts, packaging, sending, and even returns on your behalf. This allows you to spend more time on marketing, product development, and growing your business.
However, this then means that you’re not necessarily in control of how your goods are packaged and handled. You may need to shop around to find a fulfilment service that matches your brand ethos and aesthetic, or you may want to stay in control throughout the entire process, especially if you’d rather offer a more personalised service. Research has found that 75% of online shoppers prefer brands that offer personalised messages, which can be as simple as including a thank you note addressed to the buyer in every order. This also gives you more control over how your clients will receive their goods, allowing you to choose a delivery method that works best for you, such as a high-priority service if you customers need their items as soon as possible. CitySprint, for example, is a courier company which offers a range of options tailored to their delivery, including a same-day service, with affordable business rates.
Working with a courier service gives you the freedom to time when orders will be collected from your office or warehouse, as you’re less reliant on the schedules of external companies, such as fulfilment centres or even Royal Mail. Knowing exactly when your orders will be collected also allows you to better plan your days, ensuring each order will be completed on time.
2. Additional staff
As you deal with the increase in orders and admin tasks that come with an expanding business, you may find that you simply can’t do everything yourself. Expanding your team comes naturally, but it can take time, so you need to think about it carefully in advance. Consider where you might need extra help, and what knowledge an employee can bring to the table. For example, you might want to hire a marketing expert to help with your promotional campaigns, or someone with customer service experience to handle all queries and administrative tasks. Ideally, you want to have as broad a range of skills as possible between you and your team.
Your new hire will also need to work well with you, and share similar values to your brand. As your business grows and your team expands, your company culture will also develop, so it’s important to get this right from the very start. Having the right company culture can nurture creativity, encourage employee retention, and ultimately boost performance, so it’s important to hire people who you might consider to be a good fit straight away.
3. Cash flow
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the world and economy is incredibly unpredictable, but even before the pandemic, cash and funding were problems that businesses could face at any time during its lifespan. While expanding your business operations does mean you can deal with more sales, it comes at a risk of not being sustainable in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.
As your business grows, your variable costs will increase due to new hires, larger workspaces, more raw materials, new machinery, and so on — all of which will eat into your profits. Consequently, if you expand your business too quickly, you may find yourself facing bigger losses than you actually need to. Take a careful look at your finances, and consider raising additional funds to grow your business, remembering to only expand as much as you can realistically afford, and keeping in mind that you probably won’t see profits straight away.
Once you start being able to accomodate more customers, you need to ensure that you actually get the sales to match. While you should continue to work on retaining your existing customers, you should also start investing in bringing your brand to a wider audience. You can do this quickly through social media marketing, which is where many people look for new brands and products. In fact, almost three quarters of consumers are influenced by social networks when it comes to making purchases. Look at the trending hashtags that are relevant to your industry, and start incorporating them into your posts, and keep a close eye on what kinds of posts perform well with your audience so you know what to keep doing. For example, if your followers react more positively to video posts, invest in a concerted video marketing campaign.
Whether you make a conscious effort to expand your business, or it simply happens organically over time, it’s important to keep track of how successful you are. Take your time with any decisions and remember that, while it is hard work, you should enjoy and learn from the journey.