Ted Hickman

Ways to Expand Small Businesses

Keeping mind the sage advice that you don’t want to spread yourself too thinly while facilitating expansion in the fastest way possible, small businesses can apply some great, proven ways to expand their operations. Whether you’ve it somewhat of a growth plateau or if you’re looking to take advantage of a specific opportunity to boost revenue streams you’ve identified, expansion requires a little bit of a different way of thinking.

Introduce a referral earnings system

If your business is one which is run online then this is perhaps much easier to do, because all you really need is to introduce an affiliate programme to your operations. If you’re selling a catalogue of digital products or services for instance, these days you can even get something like a WordPress plug-in that can essentially turn your website into an e-commerce store with affiliate marketing, tracking and managing capabilities.

This can be taken into the physical space as well though and is in fact a very clever growth and expansion hack many established businesses use for further growth and expansion. Why not use it for your small business?

Obviously the numbers have to add up and you need to make sure that at the end of the day, each transaction in the form of a sale is profitable. It doesn’t help posting record turnover figures when the profit is non-existent or negligible…

Otherwise what does an independent salesperson have to lose, knocking door-to-door and prospecting leads with your offering which you might have otherwise not have gained access to as part of your regular marketing and sales channels? Nothing. If anything they have quite a bit to gain by way of some good sales commission they can make.

Look to facilitate strategic partnerships

As a result of how difficult and challenging it can be to get to stage where your small business stabilises and perhaps even starts making a profit, as opposed to just breaking even or operating at a loss, small business owners sometimes fall into the trap of not wanting to mess things up by making any further changes. Once they’ve hit that so-called “warm-spot” they can become set in their ways, which is fair enough, except that’s where some kind of comfort zone develops. As you’ll know, a comfort zone is also a place of zero growth.

I totally understand the difficulties around trying to get out of this place, trust me on that, which is why I reckon the next best place to look in trying to facilitate growth in your small business is in a place that won’t have you needing to venture too far out of this established optimal success zone. It’s not the ultimate in optimal success zones though, as is attested to by your realisation of the need to expand.

What you’ll do is seek to establish strategic partnerships and by that I mean try and go into business with other businesses which might benefit from their subsequent relationship with yours. How it should all play out though is that neither of you would need to make any wholesale changes to each of your core operational structures.

For example, if your small business is a corner store which takes up delivery of supplies from a specific source area, why not partner up with someone else whose business also receives delivery form the same source area to cut the costs of the fuel?

Look up the value supply chain

The previous section introduces a look up the supply chain, in which case you might even be able to take full control of it and forge a spin-off business. It might make better sense for you and your identified fellow business operator to perhaps buy vehicles, sharing the costs down the middle, and then perhaps starting a business together which deals in distribution beyond just delivering each of your supplies.

Rope in a business consultant

Business consultants can add some real value to an existing small business structure, but it’s all about finding the right consultant. They have an outside view on processes which they’re all too familiar with and sometimes all it takes is just opening up the communication channels so that you might be able to work out some kind of equity structure that doesn’t require you to cough up cold, hard cash upfront.