Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
One of the things that you’ll commonly see when you search for advice or guidance on running any kind of business is a focus on the early days. And, to be entirely fair, this is often the point in any business’s lifetime when a business owner probably needs the most help and guidance. After all, you’re still coming to terms with the reality of what you’re doing, there’s a chance that everything is new to you, and it can often feel as though the entire world is against you. However, one of the issues that can arise from this approach is that it creates an idea in the minds of many small business owners that once their business is up and running, that’s the hard part over with. Sadly, that’s just not the case.
The truth is that once you’ve been able to get your business going and have achieved some degree of success, that’s the moment when things are going to start getting really tough. This can cause a lot of startups to flounder and struggle to really make the most of the success that they’ve earned. When this happens they either get stuck in the particular place that they’re in, or their businesses fail altogether. In order to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, here are just a few things that you can do in order to take your business to the next level.
Diversify your products
When you first start your business, there’s a good chance that you’re going stick with a pretty core line of products or services. In fact, you may have only a single product or service that you build your entire business around. This is actually a great way to start since it allows you to focus on quality as much as possible. When you’re first starting out, you likely don’t have the resources for a diverse range of products. However, as your business grows it becomes more and more important to diversify what you are able to offer to your customers.
A single great product can be fantastic but it’s going to become a limitation for your business quite quickly as you begin to outgrow it. Sure, you shouldn’t give up on your core product, just think about other things you could add to your business. One of the best ways to figure this out is to look at the purchasing habits of your customers. What kinds of things are they buying? Are there things that they want from your product that it’s not offering? That way you’re going to be able to fill in those gaps and make your business that much more indispensable to them.
Increase your staff
When you first start your business, there’s a good chance that it’s made up of only a few people, probably you and your business partners. In fact, there’s even a chance that you’re the only person involved in your business from the start. However, it often becomes pretty clear to a lot of business owners that, if they want to go from a part-time gig in their spare room making pocket change to a legitimate business, they need to bring in other people. Your staff are the beating heart of your business and without them, there’s a good chance that the whole thing could easily collapse under its own weight.
However, if your business is growing and you’re trying to take it to the next level, one of the worst things that you can do is to assume that your current staff can take on all of the work involved in that. It’s going to leave you all feeling frustrated and exhausted. Not only that but it can even lead to resentment from your employees. Think about the specific areas of your business that might require a more dedicated set of skills. Hiring people to focus purely on marketing or other parts of your business is often far better than trying to have every employee take on three different roles at once.
Seek greater investment
Businesses cost money, that’s hardly the most exciting or unusual statement ever made but that doesn’t make it any less true. The reality of running any business is that you’re going to need investment from somewhere. The big, important question is exactly where you’re going to get that investment from. There are a lot of different places you can find investment in your business, from taking out a personal loan to angel investors to more unusual routes like crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
No matter how you secure investment for your business, you need to remember that as it grows, you’re likely to require even more. If you’re building your business carefully then you should be in a position where you can always offer greater returns on any investment, whether that’s increased profits for your investors or great rewards for any of your backers who help to fund your business’s growth and expansion.
Increase the scale of your business
The reality is that your business is going to have to grow if you want to improve. And that’s not just in terms of the scope of your business in a metaphorical sense, but in a physical sense as well. After all, a larger business requires more physical space. More employees need a larger office in order to both keep them safe and make sure that everyone is working comfortably. The same goes for everything from expanding into manufacturing to the logistics of your business. Not only that but you may end up thinking about different locations for your business. If you’re running a retail store then you may want to expand to different locations in order to tap into different markets. After all, there’s only so much that you can get out of a single location. This is something that can often be a pretty risky proposition so it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re not rushing into it, but if you’re doing things properly, it can be the first step towards your business becoming something a whole lot more than it currently is.
Do more things in-house
When you first start running a business, one of the very best and most important things that can help you succeed is outsourcing. Outsourcing is the secret weapon of a lot of young startups. After all, if your business is made up of just yourself and a couple of other people then there really is no chance that you’re going to be able to deal with it all yourself. Because of that, reaching out to other professionals or companies is often one of the very best things that you can do. However, as your business grows and you increase the size of your workforce, you’re going to be able to deal with more and more things in-house. Things like warehousing which might previously have been dealt with by someone else can become a central part of your business. Of course, that does mean that you’ll have more things to worry about, everything from finding an affordable freight quote to ensuring that your warehouse’s health and safety measures are all up to scratch. However, the benefits of dealing with these things yourself can often vastly outweigh the challenges involved.
Make sure that your premises are suitable
When you first start out, there’s a chance that you could well just be working out of your spare room at home. As things grow and you bring in more people you might hire out some space in an office building instead. However, as your business grows more and more, you might have to start thinking about whether or not your premises are really suitable. If you need to create the perfect space with everything your business needs then you might be better off building it yourself. This can often constitute something of a serious investment but many business owners have found being able to build their premises based on their businesses exact needs to be an incredibly positive step.
One of the most important things that you need to remember when trying to push your business forward is not to let your ambition get the best of you. It’s incredibly common for a lot of business owners to feel on top of the world when their business starts to succeed and that can end up causing more problems than it solves. The truth is that one of the most important words that you need to remember when creating a successful business is “sustainability.” If you try and grow and expand your business too quickly then you run the risk of the whole thing collapsing under its own weight. You’re not necessarily going to be prepared for the kinds of increased expectations that are placed on you as your business grows. Investors will expect greater returns and new customers are going to hold your business to a much higher standard. As exciting as growing your business can be, if you’re not doing it carefully, it can be as much of curse as a blessing.