Growing a business

3 key tools business owners use to successfully expand their businesses

You’ve navigated your business through the precarious startup phase and into a pattern of stability. Now, you want to grow your organization. However, before you go full throttle on any expansion plan, you’ll want to make sure your company’s ready to flourish.

Why not just implement your big ideas and see how large your business becomes? That sounds good, but without putting proper measures in place, you could wind up hurting your brand reputation, interfering with the employee and customer experiences, and opening yourself to other risks. That’s why it’s best to plan your growth thoughtfully instead of haphazardly.

Is that your phone ringing? Yes! It’s a potential customer who wants to place a large order. Your first instinct may be to sign a contract now—and figure out the details later. Yet, you could wind up in a bad position if you don’t strategize beforehand.

Prepare yourself and your team members to stretch your wings without losing momentum, altitude, or control. Start by leveraging the following resources. Each one will help you comfortably and confidently lift your brand, increase your revenue, and broaden your industry footprint.

1. Adopt cloud-based software

You don’t have to embark on a comprehensive digital transformation to benefit from a tech stack upgrade. Before going large, take inventory of the software and systems your employees use. Are they centralized and accessible for everyone, including virtual workers? Do they enable everyone to enjoy a high degree of transparency across departments, as well as limit the need for staff to manually transfer data from one location to another?

When your company goes into growth mode, your software must be able to grow with you. At the same time, you may benefit from solutions you aren’t using now, such as project management software. Popular and trusted platforms such as Trello and Asana offer flexibility and third-party app integration opportunities.

Pro-tip suggestion: When evaluating software as a service possibilities, look for solutions that can be integrated with each other to limit silos. 

2. Implement personal learning tools

There’s little doubt that you’ve already enjoyed quite a bit of a learn-as-you-go education in your business. Still, you shouldn’t limit your upskilling to the so-called “school of hard knocks.” Some of our most respected innovators, inventors, and creators devour educational materials, such as books and podcasts. They know that learning from other people’s missteps and wins puts them ahead of the pack.

Don’t just stick to information from your industry. Explore material containing universally applicable ideas and tips, even if it comes from an unfamiliar sector. If you want to increase your good fortune the systematic way? Entrepreneur Mark Lachance explains how in the The Lucky Formula. Feel like you haven’t tapped into your vulnerability as a leader? Brené Brown teaches you how in her bestselling Dare to Lead. And when you need on-the-go motivation in audible, snackable doses, opt to tune into NPR’s TED Radio podcast.

Pro-tip suggestion: Educating yourself doesn’t have to eat away at your downtime. Look for daily 15-minute breaks to read a few pages or tune on a podcast episode. Learning in snippets, sometimes called nano-learning, is preferred by many busy professionals.

3. Hire independent contractors

Be honest with yourself: If you start taking on new projects, selling more products or services, wooing new audiences, or breaking into untapped markets, will your team be stretched too thin? Chances are strong that you won’t be able to do it all with the people you have in place. Of course, you may not want to incur the cost to recruit, onboard, and pay more part-time or full-time employees. Labor costs tend to hover around 35% of your gross sales. Consequently, every person you bring into the fold will chip away at your profits.

Avail yourself of the on-trend expertise of independent contractors. The gig economy is a wonderful place to find the people you need during your first stages of expansion. You can hire professionals on a contract basis without worrying about benefits or long-term arrangements. Not only will they bring with them their skills, but they’ll probably have access to their own tools so you won’t have to make extra investment.

Pro-tip suggestion: Independent contractors aren’t necessarily averse to becoming employees. If you find one who seems to be an excellent fit and you end up with a full-time need, consider sourcing from the freelance pool filled with people who already know your business.

It’s time to fly

Whether you plan on expanding your business to sell it later or keep it in the family for generations, you want your growth to be a time of excitement, not stress. Acknowledging and using the these key resources should smooth your transitions and provide a runway for your corporate takeoff.

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