When your small business, after you’ve invested so much time, money, and effort, begins succeeding like you always dreamed it would, there’s often one obvious thing to do: expand. When small business owners think of expansion, the first thing that comes to mind is usually opening a new location. Adding a new location isn’t the only – or even necessarily the best – way to expand. Here are five other practical and potentially lucrative options for expanding your small business.
Add New Products or Services
One of the most practical ways to expand your business is to offer your customers more. Consider what you could sell that would be complimentary to your current products or services. If you sell a line of specialty teas, for example, you might begin selling tea cookies, tea accessories, or coffee. While creating new products or designing new services isn’t necessarily easy, you will benefit from already have the business infrastructure, distribution channels, and customer base necessary to launch.
Reach a New Audience
Once you’ve become well-versed in the needs and wants of your primary target audience and have achieved success in marketing your product or services to it, think about reaching different audiences. If you design trendy purses for women, maybe you could begin designing functional laptop cases for businesspeople or backpacks for school children. You might come up with new products that would appeal to a different audience, or you could simply tweak your existing marketing efforts to catch the attention of a new audience. For example, expand your house-painting business to corporate clients.
Start Online Sales
The Internet offers amazing opportunities for any business to expand beyond their local region into national or global markets. When your business sells online, anyone with a computer is a potential customer. It will take lots of online marketing and SEO before your online store is catching the attention of a large, worldwide audience, but it is relatively easy to set up an ecommerce store and begin processing sales. You won’t need to spend a lot of money or make a lot of changes in your day-to-day operations to start out. Not only is online-sales expansion potentially lucrative, it will also help you learn about the national market for your niche.
Align with Other Businesses
Finding other successful businesses to align yours with can be a mutually-beneficial relationship. There are many different ways you could go about this, but you’ll need to partner up with a business that offers products or services similar to yours or targets the same audience as you. Your alliance will help open your business up to a new pool of potential customers. You could, for example, offer a discount to patrons of the business you’re working with. You could ask a related business to promote your product or service on their website in exchange for a referral commission. Aligning yourself with the right businesses can really help put you on the fast track to widespread success.
Offer Your Business as a Franchise
Once you’ve established a successful business model, you may be able to expand by franchising your business to other people who are interested in your line of work. Franchises are a great way to expand your business into new regions without, frankly, having to do everything that opening a new location would require. Your franchise owners will be very motivated to succeed based on their own investment in the company, and you can see your business grow more quickly than doing it all alone.
This piece on the challenges of small business expansion and branding was written by Travis Lee in conjunction with SEOMap – a group specializing in keyword strategy.