Answer: Rieva Lesonsky, www.growbizmedia.com, has a few tips that we have modified to apply to Cape Cod businesses.
Expand geographically. We talk about being a Cape Cod business, but if you really want to grow your enterprise, you cannot let either bridge be limitations to your growth. Consider yourself a South Shore business based on Cape Cod. Consider the Islands as part of your sphere of business. Consider the world as an opportunity via e-commerce.
Expand demographically. If you started off cleaning homes for high-end customers, create an offering from working families or for businesses. Look at other target markets that can benefit from your service. Explore other segments of business that relate to your business. A bike rental business can offer men’s, women’s and then children’s bikes – bikes with even training wheels for true beginners. They can offer three-wheeled vehicles for senior-seniors who want to bike, but two-wheelers are no longer safe.
Expand by adding products to your services or vice versa. If your offering is window cleaning, then you might offer to clients who are on monthly contracts, cleaning products for their cars or boats. You have a hardware store where the core business is sales, but why not offer equipment rentals?
Expand by moving to e-commerce. One way to grow your business beyond the geographic boundaries of the Cape and Islands is to use e-commerce. You might select specific offerings from your boutique to offer on-line vs. the entire store’s products. Getting followers of your website is an important first step, and that can be done through adding a blog or content that will appeal to your clientele.
Expand by moving from e-commerce to brick and mortar. Many new enterprises start using e- commerce since the fixed investments are less. If your e-commerce revenue is plateauing, you might think about brick and mortar in a fixed location where you can expand your e-commerce offerings.
Expand by hiring. You have been a solo practitioner since startup. If you have a marketing services studio if you add a graphic designer so you can spend more time selling, can you expand your business profitably? If you can project an increase in revenue and profit to justify hiring staff that will increase your flow through, then it might be time to hire. You have a landscaping business and are turning down (profitable) work since you don’t have the staff, then adding a truck, equipment and personnel might be in order. Doing a break-even analysis is the first step to determine if, in fact, the addition of capital and human resources will benefit the business.
Expand by changing the organization of your business. Is it time to find a partner? Can a partner provide skills that will allow you to grow your business? A partner that is good at administration and organization that can run the office, manage your Accounts Receivables, work team scheduling may give you time to increase revenue and profits by meeting with more clients, executing more proposals, and doing more face-to-face customer contact. It may not be a partner, as in investing to achieve a share in the business, but it might be someone who is an associate who receives incentive compensation based on increased revenue and profit.
Expand by adding an Advisory Board. Being an entrepreneur is a lonely business. Analyzing growth, managing an expanding business, evaluating options is very difficult and dangerous if you are doing it by yourself. Create an Advisory Board of experts who can advise you. At SCORE we offer Advisory Boards to clients who are beyond the monthly mentoring and are ready for quarterly updates and reviews. For one client we have three Mentors: a CPA, a marketer and a general management specialist. Meeting Quarterly gives both sides time to digest change and evaluate next steps in growth.