Many business owners think of building a company like a path: You follow certain steps and eventually your business will grow. But success is never a straight line.
If you own a new or developing company, there are numerous challenges to overcome during business expansion. And if your company is well-established, by now you’ve realized that it’s never possible to reach the top of the mountain – there is always more to achieve, streamline and conquer in the world of business.
Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial journey, you can develop a business expansion strategy that equips your company to grow sustainably. You just need the right resources and mentality.
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What is business expansion?
When business experts talk about business expansion, they often refer to growth and scaling. “Growth” refers to increased sales, while “scalability” refers to being able to perform well under a growing workload. So, in the most technical sense, learning how to expand your business means balancing an increase in production with efficient production processes.
For the new business owner, rapid expansion might seem appealing, since it sounds synonymous with immediate profits. However, in reality, expanding a business is not strictly a matter of quickly increasing a company’s output. Rather, in order to remain viable in the long term, one must take great care to expand a business sustainably.
This is where mindful business expansion comes into play. Tony Robbins uses a hockey stick metaphor to describe a healthy business expansion strategy: Rather than focus on a sharp, upward spike in growth (the hockey stick), we must focus instead on the preceding, linear growth (the blade) that must happen as an incubation period. By allowing a business to incubate and nurture its marketing, operations, branding and sales techniques, business owners ward off a potential catastrophe: explosive growth without an adequate foundation.
How to expand your business
Business expansion is always a goal, no matter the age, success or size of the company. Whether you’re just beginning to consider how to expand business or are looking for new strategies, there are six steps to sustainable business expansion.
1. Determine if you’re ready for business expansion
Before your business can run, it needs to learn how to crawl. When it’s in the infancy stage of the business lifecycle, focus on laying your business’s foundation so it’s prepared for future growth. Prioritize refining your brand, your business’s true purpose and your financial resources, and work strategically to hire the right team. Business will start expanding, seemingly on its own – and a new set of challenges will emerge. In the teen years, you can start thinking about a plan for how to expand business, but it’s more important to address growing pains like communication and operations issues.
Once your business reaches adulthood, you’ll be ready to put your business expansion strategy into action. In addition to asking how to expand your business, ask: Where do I want to go from here, and what systems do I need in place to get there? Am I hiring (and firing) efficiently? Am I delegating effectively or am I overworked? Finding honest answers to these pivotal questions propels you toward the coveted “golden years” of running a business.
2. Remember your vision
When you founded your business, you created a company vision statement to guide all of your future decisions. It’s your inspiration, your goal and your culture, all wrapped up in one. It’s a tool to set expectations for your employees and to tell a story about your company to your target market.
Learning how to expand your business means staying true to your business vision and never forgetting it. Your business embodies your core values, so get the support you need creating a business identity unique to your company. And when you align business expansion with who you really are, you’re able to keep on track growing the company of your dreams.
3. Give yourself the right resources
To put your business expansion strategy into action, you’ll need resources. This is why you cannot approach how to expand a business until you’re in the later stages of the business cycle. When your business’s cash flow is too low or too high, you will experience problems paying your bills or keeping up with the demand for business. To address this potential hurdle, focus on the financial component of the 7 Forces of Business Mastery. Once you have your cash flow down, that’s the time to think about business expansion.
Money isn’t the only thing you’ll need. Whether you’re planning on expanding your product development or going after new markets, what you will most need is people. When your team is overburdened and under-supported, it is impossible for staff to do their jobs well, much less passionately. Even worse, putting too much pressure on each person to perform will likely lead to high turnover. As a solution (and preventative measure), hire the right people by finding professionals who are passionate, skillful and dedicated.
4. Tighten up your operations
Part of ensuring you have the right resources is tightening up your operations so they’re effective and efficient. To achieve business efficiency, fine-tune how all the moving parts of your business work together, from your staffing processes to finances. You want systems in place that streamline your workflow.
If your business is in its infancy or adolescence, or if it’s in adulthood but you did not manage its earlier life stages effectively, it’s likely you’ll struggle with ineffective (or missing) systems and processes. To fix this, find (or become) a true manager who will implement systems to steer your company forward into business expansion.
5. Be willing to adapt
As you dig deeper into how to expand your business, you may find that your business model itself has room for improvement. An outdated business model is of little use, but a business model that’s customized to your product creates firm footing for expansion. You’ll also want a business model that’s adaptable and agile.
Given the growing pains of business expansion and the inevitability of change, instability and uncertainty are virtually guaranteed. A business that’s flexible will be able to reassess its strategy and change direction to capture new revenue. Remember, knowledge is power. Arm yourself with the tools you need to recognize opportunities and take decisive action, like completing an online business course, finding a mentor or recruiting a business coach.
6. Take care of yourself
In all the excitement of learning how to expand a business, you might forget the most important part: a business is only as strong as its leader. As the captain of your business’s ship, your overall functioning is paramount to your company’s functioning. You’ll find that the pursuit of holistic health fits hand-in-hand with the pursuit of business expansion; the former can only enhance the latter.
There are three components to this: physical health, mental focus and emotional serenity. Eat healthy and find a form of exercise you enjoy. Create a morning ritual that sets the tone for your day with priming or meditation. Practice gratitude to find emotional stability. Mastering all three of these areas won’t just help you stay healthy – you’ll find energy and focus that will make you a better leader as you carry out your business expansion strategy.
Business expansion is a challenge and invitation – to face your fears, find creative solutions and empower yourself for success. Instead of giving up when you encounter obstacles, lean into them as opportunities to learn more about how to expand your business.
Ready to take your business to unreached levels?
Discover how to expand your business the right way with Tony Robbins’ Free Business Entrepreneur Toolkit.