Many small business owners take it for granted that their company absolutely must grow. After all, isn’t that what success is predicated upon? In fact, there are several compelling reasons why you might not want to expand your enterprise at this time.
The Time May Not Be Right
Needless to say, the decision to grow your business is not one to be taken lightly. Once you make that leap of faith, there is a high probability that you and your staff will enter a time of turbulence. That’s why it is so important to assess your entire situation before you move to another location, alter your business plan or start to sell a whole new line of products. Take some time to carefully ponder the following questions:
- Is the economy in my area stable enough to allow for my business’s expansion?
- Will the market sustain my choice to grow? (If competition is too plentiful or the prices you will need to charge will be undercut by a big box rival, expansion might not make sense.)
- Am I in a solid financial and emotional position, both personally and professionally?
- Do I have the funds or the necessary lenders to make this move possible?
- Do I have the right equipment and staff to expand?
- What will I do if this expansion fails?
As an entrepreneur, you are already well aware of the toll that running your operation has on your own life. Making the decision to grow your business will amplify your stress level exponentially, particularly if your finances are tenuous. If you don’t have a strong support system of family, friends and even close-knit employees, you may soon find yourself feeling like a lone pioneer struggling through the wilderness. Ultimately, your overwhelmed status will affect not just you and the people around you but also the functioning of your business and your relationships with your valuable customers.
With expansion comes the promise of increased profits – and the very real possibility of taking on amplified risk. Not every business owner is ready to bear the additional financial obligations and the need for higher sales numbers that come with getting bigger. If you expand without first ensuring that you have a safety net in place, you could wind up harming the company you have worked so hard to build. Success is not a race to the top; it comes most easily for those who have a plan and follow it.
When you first launched your company, you probably had no choice but to pour your heart and soul into the establishment. Today, you may have stabilized your store to the point that you can build time into your calendar for personal relaxation. Be prepared to go back to basics if you choose to grow your business.
If you already feel encumbered by the burdens of your responsibilities as a business owner, keep in mind that growth is always accompanied by an increased workload. Ask yourself if you truly are ready to shoulder the extra work that is certain to come. Be sure you also have strategies in place that will ensure that your levels of inventory and customer service do not suffer. There would be nothing worse than losing your loyal customer base in your efforts to gain a larger footprint.
While you can outsource some of the new responsibilities that go hand in hand with expansion, you may find that you need to hire additional permanent staff as well. Taking this step gives your community a boost and enlivens your workplace, but it also brings new challenges. You might not have the time to train new people, especially in light of your larger size and extra projects.
To use a real-life example, think of the time it will take getting your new hires up-to-speed on the intricacies of your wireless credit card machines. Then multiply that by all of the other aspects of the job that will involve monitoring and training by you or one of your veteran staff. Furthermore, additional employees can bring about more tax obligations and the need to re-examine your business insurance and worker’s compensation policies.
Choose the Right Time
The good news is that there is nothing written in stone that requires you to expand your business nor are there prescribed timelines. Go with your gut feeling. A healthy amount of anxiety around change is good. However, if your wise inner voice is telling you that the moment is not right for growth, there is no shame in that. You can always re-examine the possibilities a month or year from now.