In the beginning stages of your business, a lot of sweat, energy, and resources were necessary to get your enterprise off the ground. And with a can-do attitude, many entrepreneurs are able to sacrifice and survive without much structure or process. However, once you’ve survived the crucial phases of startup, the growth and expansion stage can prove to be a bit tougher.
Scaling the business for growth and expansion is no easy task. To build a successful business from small to medium or medium to large is difficult, which is why so many businesses remain small. The 2012 U.S. Economic Census data suggest that more than 74 percent of businesses in the U.S. have less than 500 employees. Most businesses remain small because growing and expanding a business to be attractive for investment requires more than just a great idea, it has to be scalable.
There are a lot of self-help books and organizations such as SCORE and, the U.S. Small Business Association, which is dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs start, grow and exceed in their business ventures and many others that can provide assistance to businesses through networks, advice, mentorship, and more. These resources, however, are just a start: an entrepreneur needs to be willing to look deeper inside the internal weavings of their enterprise to prepare for growth.
Like all entrepreneurs, I too decided to take a closer look to identify ways to grow and expand my business and what I found helped me to discover some valuable tools, a new prospective and insight. Last year, I found the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program, which is a $500 million investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing them with greater access to education, financial capital and business support services. After successfully graduating from this program, I can honestly say, I had an amazing experience where people from all walks of life and businesses crossing a multitude of services and industries came together to not only help stimulate their business for growth, but also to collaborate with other businesses. It can be lonely at the top; there is value in surrounding yourself around like minds.
Here are some ideas and tough questions that need to be considered as you think about exploring ideas on growth and expansion of your business.
- Strategy – What is your strategy? Should you narrow your focus on your target customer or niche service or product? Have you considered opening up another location to expand your market or possibly franchising as a via business opportunity?
- Examine the Leader – Invest in yourself, and develop your leadership skills and abilities.
- Your Team – Do you have the right people on your team (i.e. employees, partners, competitors)? Is their synergy in partnering with competitors and creating alliances with other businesses?
- Sales & Marketing – What does your sales process look like? Are there economic incentives and mechanisms in place to stimulate the sales function and people? Do you have a brand, has the sales function moved from relationship to business?
- Operations – Does your operations and processes need improvement? Are your systems and infrastructure relevant and reliable? Have you identified the patterns in your delivery of service or designed products based on what can be repeated and not customized?
- Finance – Will your financial resources and reports get you to the next level? Are you able to measure and evaluate your business?
- Access to Capital – Are you able to raise capital and convince investors to invest in your business? Is your credit stable enough to gain an affordable interest rate and a variety of lending products?
Starting a business isn’t easy and taking the leap to the next level isn’t simple either. But if you are willing to challenge yourself and ask those tough questions about your business; then with the right information, tools, and people, the opportunity for growth and expansion can make a whole lot of sense.
Gerri Lazarre, CPA, MsTax is a certified public accountant and principal with TriMergeCPA and TriMergeTax in Miami, Florida. Lazarre specializes in providing professional advisory services in the areas of accounting, audit and tax planning to individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations for more than 13 years. For more information, please visit www.TriMergeTax.com and www.TriMergeCPA.com. Connect with Gerri on social media at Twitter.com/TriMergeCPA, Twitter.com/TriMergeTax or https://twitter.com/GerriLazarreCPA.
Photo courtesy of Dionysius Burton [FLICKR]