What you need to know when growing your small business interstate

According to the Small Business Development Corporation of Western Australia (WA), where Brooks Hire has been based for over 35 years, small businesses represent 97% of all businesses in WA. Operating across a broad range of industries, from manufacturing and business services to retail, transport and more, small businesses are crucial to the state of WA, as it is to all the other parts of Australia.

They might number in the very many, but of all the countless small businesses operating out there, plus others that add daily to the growing figure, only a comparatively small percentage will become successful enough to grow their business interstate.

Brooks Hire has been fortunate enough to be one of them, so if you have reached the stage where you are ready to expand your business and open up another location or branch in another state, first of all – congratulations! The hard work is only just beginning for this next phase of your small business’ development, and the first thing you’ll need to do is get your planning sorted out. We hope the following tips come in useful for you.

SWOT analysis

SWOT analysis, also sometimes called SWOT matrix, refers to the well known structured business planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved in a business venture or project.

One of the first things that you’ll need to do is check out the competition in your chosen location, as well as explore the opportunities that are present, so that your new branch or franchise will be able to thrive. The presence of competition is a good sign in that it helps you to confirm that there is a genuine demand for your product or service, but at the same time you probably don’t want to enter a market that’s already over-saturated with what you’re about to offer.

Make a list of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the state (or states, if you’re looking at more than one) that you are considering. Depending on your type of small business, consider also whether you want to open another branch, or if it will be more profitable to go down the franchising route.

Speak to your financial advisers, business partners and so on before making your decision. Remember that the more planning and research you put in at the beginning, the smoother the expansion will be later on. Once you’ve done all your homework and made your decision, then you can move on to the next stage: coming up with the start of the operational action plan needed to develop and expand your business interstate.

 Financial planning and budget

Obviously finances will be a key issue in every expansion, whether locally or interstate. Double and triple check to make sure that your figures check out and that you have all the necessary funds in place before you even begin the expansion process.

Bear in mind that you should always have a fall back plan, firstly in case not all of the funding required comes through at the time that you need it; and secondly because in the unpredictable world of small businesses, things don’t always go according to plan.

At this point, your business and tax accountants will have become your best friends so don’t stop checking in with them. Make sure that you have maximised your tax return to include the expansion in your business. If you are selling land or property to pay for the growth, then allow time for this process to take place, and be sensible about the timeline of what you are aiming to do. Rushing into an expansion is one of the costliest mistakes that small businesses make.

Ready to lock down some details? Great. Fix an opening date for your new branch or location, and work backwards from that date to make sure that everything you have in your operational plan has been earmarked with a sensible time frame in mind.

Location and premises

Finding a location and the right business premises is often one of the trickier aspects of interstate growth, but once you’ve locked that down, it’s also when things start to get exciting.

If you are renovating existing premises or organising a new build, then do ensure that you get the planning agreement through in good time so that your builders and outfitters are in place and ready when the time comes to begin work. It might sound simple, but make sure also that the phones, computer and Internet networks and all your other utilities are up and running smoothly before you open.

For those businesses that might need to move existing equipment from their headquarters out to the new branch, that’s another aspect that you’ll need to coordinate and plan well ahead of time. Be sure to book a professional transport company that can be trusted with your expensive business and industry equipment. Ideally you’ll want to hire a company who has experience with working interstate, with a reliable track record and a proven reputation. Don’t skimp on this, as the right professionals will make your expansion process a lot smoother.

Human resources

It’s not always easy to find the right people for the job, but stick with it – taking the time and effort now to hire (and retain) a good team will pay off in the long run. Don’t just hire people that you know; make sure that the people you’re hiring shares your company’s vision, and more importantly, is qualified and willing to put in the hard yards with you to grow the new branch of your business.

Also, don’t forget to learn and understand the employment laws and regulations in the state that you’re going to, as these might vary slightly from state to state. If you’re unfamiliar with them, as you probably would be, hire or consult with someone who’s experienced and qualified enough to guide you in the process. The last thing you want is for your new office to get caught up in some legal snafu just because you neglected to properly understand the human resource side of things.


About the author:

Stuart Brooks is the General Manager of Brooks Hire, one of the largest privately owned hire companies in the country that specialises in the supply of heavy equipment to the civil and mining industries Australia-wide. In addition to having multiple offices in WA, Brooks Hire also has branches in NT, QLD, NSW and VIC.

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