Growing a business is all about strategy. There are several avenues of growth, which we’ll cover below, but the key truly is in the timing. If you grow too soon, you might take on more than you can handle, which could be detrimental to your company. Yet, if you wait too long, you risk losing valuable opportunities that can level up your business.
Let’s explore a few ways you can grow your business and how to know whether it’s a good time to consider your next move.
Expanding Your Team
Bringing on new hires is a great way to open up your business to more clients without overwhelming your existing team. However, this isn’t only about hiring new full-time employees--you may only need the support of a part-time employee, a contractor or even an intern. Regardless, this isn’t something to rush into without thinking it through.
The hiring process requires an investment of your time, so you need to be certain you’ll have the space to accommodate it for several weeks as you search for the right candidate. Even when you do, you still need to allot sufficient time for onboarding, so it’s important to have your ducks in a row first.
When to consider it: When you can never seem to find enough time to get everything done or you’ve had to turn down good work, it’s likely high time to bring on a new team member. Likewise, if there’s a time-sucking task that you can’t stand, it could be a good sign that you need to outsource that work and free up your schedule and mental space. (You might even be able to reclaim a weekend or two!)
Offering New Products or Services
Expanding your offerings is a great way to grow your business, as it allows you the opportunity to diversify your revenue streams. In a year filled with uncertainty, we’ve all learned the value of additional income, especially when it’s not linked to your primary source of profits. The more revenue streams you have, the less risk you carry if one (or more) of them underperforms due to circumstances outside of your control (hello, global pandemic).
Of course, it’s important for any new offerings to somehow link to your existing products or services. It makes sense for a photographer to sell custom-made albums, but could seem off-putting if he or she suddenly started selling floral arrangements. That’s not to say you can’t add on an unrelated peripheral service, especially if you have the talent and passion, but understand that prospective clients may be skeptical about offerings that don’t tie into your existing business model.
When to consider it: This is a smart move if you’ve been finding your business turning down client requests for things that you don’t offer. Listen to what your clients are asking for and, if something seems doable within your existing business structure, plan to do a trial period to see how the new offerings sell with your target market.
Entering a New Market
The beauty of expanding to a new market is the access to an all-new client base that can lead to new opportunities. Likewise, you also get to form a new network with venues and industry professionals in that area; however, that also means opening yourself up to a whole new set of competitors as well. If you’re feeling stuck where you are, this could be a great way to take your business to new heights.
Before you launch elsewhere, you’ll need to do some careful market research to ensure that your brand and your offerings will be a fit with the clientele in that area. Allot several weeks—or months, as your schedule allows—to grow comfortable with the market and connect with other industry pros who can share their experiences working within that client base.
When to consider it: Entering a new market can be a way to elevate your brand in other areas when your market starts to feel oversaturated with competitors. Additionally, this could be a smart move if you’re looking to move beyond the limitations of your local market — for example, if you live in a rural town but want to charge luxury prices, you’ll need to try other markets like that of a nearby city or diving into destination weddings in your hometown.
Growth is exciting and each of these avenues is worthy of exploring when the time is right. In addition to the factors mentioned above, perhaps the most important boxes to check off before growing is to ensure that your business is both solvent and efficient. Solvency ensures that you’re prepared to take on the financial risk of a new endeavor, whereas efficient processes demonstrate that your existing workflows are already running like clockwork.
Growth has a way of presenting unique obstacles along the way, so it’s essential to go into it with your financial and organizational standards in check.
Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development. She is also the owner and founder of Taylor’d Event Group, an event planning company that serves local and destination clients in Washington State and Maui, Hawaii.