Expanding your business into a new market is a great way to accelerate growth and improve the resilience and sustainability of your business in an ever-changing world.
However, pursuing growth at the wrong time or without the right strategy can have serious business risks. Before you make the leap to expand your business, make sure you have considered the following factors.
Embark upon rigorous market research
As tempting as it can be to dive straight into implementing your business expansion plans, it’s important to take your time and do your due diligence. Simply duplicating the strategies that have worked in previous markets will not necessarily yield the results you desire.
Developing a sound understanding of each new potential market will give you valuable insights that should shape the strategies you use for expansion. Depending on the nature of your business, this may include familiarising yourself with population demographics, local sales data or scoping an iconic location that will attract new customers and keep them returning.
Avoid falling into the trap of trying to force the new market to ‘fit’ your tried-and-true modus operandi, and instead tailor your business to meet the unique needs of your new consumer base from the beginning. It may feel onerous at first, but this step can save you time and money by avoiding the need to make big changes later.
Building continuous improvement opportunities into your business plans will help keep your business agile and flexible enough to pivot when necessary to avoid failure. Few people plan to fail but often fail to plan. Be sure that you have adequate capital and forecast conservatively with multiple scenarios so that you can handle the inevitable roadblocks you will encounter.
Assemble your dream team
Embarking on a business growth journey is an exciting, rewarding, but often challenging and exhausting experience, so having a great team around you is essential.
Diverse teams are often more resilient and possess a wider collective skill set, allowing you to overcome any obstacles or capitalise on unexpected opportunities that may arise.
Expanding a business into a new market requires effective change management for all stakeholders, including staff, suppliers, shareholders, landlords, banks or investors and, of course, customers. Implement systems that allow everyone’s feedback to be heard and adapt or change your plans when a new perspective or piece of pertinent information reveals itself.
Understanding your key stakeholders and how they will interact with your business is critical and helps you leverage the positives and neutralise the negatives.
Always remember that whilst systems are important and slogans are impressive, it is people that make the difference.
Learn from those who preceded you
Whilst your business is unique, it will share some traits with others that have already made similar journeys. Rather than starting from scratch or trying to reinvent the wheel, look for examples of successful concepts and don’t be afraid to borrow ideas from those who have done it well. You can also learn from the mistakes made by others to avoid falling into the same trap. However, mistakes are an inevitable part of the process, so don’t be scared of making them yourself; instead, be prepared to learn from them.
Getting inspiration from other businesses is one thing but conforming to antiquated ways of operating is quite another. Be conscious of the potential to succumb to the status quo and be relentless in your pursuit of excellence and innovation to avoid falling into mediocrity or resting on your laurels.
You should also be willing to share your ideas, experience, and lessons with others in your field. It can be tempting to keep our knowledge to ourselves, however, you can’t sell a secret, so spread your message far and wide, and capitalise on channels like social media with the potential to reach large audiences.
Growing your business is a serious undertaking; however, it’s important to enjoy the process and celebrate all the small successes along the way. Team culture has a significant impact on the ultimate success of your business, so don’t underestimate the value of recognising the hard work of your staff and colleagues.
Business markets are in constant flux, but with good planning, the right team, and an agile mindset, you can set your business apart, grow your existing market, and become a leader in a new market.
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