It’s not selfish to go into business with expansion in mind. But expanding too quickly can cause serious growing pains.
As tempting as it may seem, the real signs that your business is ready for the next level includes more than just cash flow and distribution demands.
So how do you know you’re really ready?
There are four major areas you need to get right – strategy, people, execution, and ambition. Here are some helpful tips to see if you’re growing on a whim or if your startup is, in fact, ready to scale.
Have a strategy for growth
As the old saying goes, ‘If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’ Even if you don’t have your entire strategy mapped out, make sure you at least have something planned so you don’t wander off course.
This plan should include:
- Product development and scaling
- How to identify and leverage key partnerships
- Management of capital and where to invest said money
- A go-to-market blueprint for expanding into new geos/markets
Talk to experts in scaling up and contacts who have done it before. Find someone you trust to help develop your strategy and give feedback.
Lay out a simple strategy and stick to it. Focus on the plan to keep your business on track and moving toward the ultimate goal. This will help you be realistic about what your company can handle.
After all, if you’re spreading yourself too thin, saying ‘no’ can also be a great growth strategy.
Have a core team of great employees
Take a cold, hard look at your personnel before you decide to scale. Do you have the right staff to accelerate growth? Do they have proven expertise and an understanding of the company’s core values?
If you’re not confident in either their ability or their commitment to the company, this is not the time to add more employees and overhead. Instead, focus some time and energy into developing the talent around you.
It’s nearly impossible for someone to be a good employee when all the info they need to do their job well is being kept from them. So set your business up for success from the inside by creating systems to communicate ideas, needs, and goals.
Do your research
As business grows, the list of government regulations to which they must comply with also grows. This includes everything from laws concerning consumer and employee data security to minimum wage variances – and these regulation pressures do not disappear.
And if you’re expanding internationally, things can get pretty hairy if you’re unfamiliar with the rules and regulations of your new target market.
Compliance in a vacuum is hard enough; keeping the same focus when scaling overseas becomes a real challenge. From local laws, to logistics, to the economics of your new business venture – stay on top of it all.
Because if you miss a step, it can immediately ruin your chances of growth. So know these regulations and red tape like your business depends on it… because it does.
Stick with it
So you’ve done your due diligence – your plan is set and you have a great team to support you – so trust your instincts and don’t give up when faced with your first few hurdles.
Steve Jobs is well known for his ambition and for never giving up. His determination is what lit a fire beneath his every endeavor.
So be relentless. Then enjoy the fruits of your labor.
The sensible approach
You need to carefully weigh the risks and rewards for growth. Do your due diligence and you’ll be better prepared to reap the benefits of expansion.
For more information on expansion, download TMF Group’s keynote presentation from Slush Founders Day 2016: Pitfalls of international expansion for startups.