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How do I know when to expand my small business?

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2023 | Small Business

Quite a few small businesses fail during their first year, and it is common for entrepreneurs to have more plans in place for failure than for success. Those running small businesses may feel uncertain about when the right time to grow a company may be and also how to handle the process without endangering their prior success.

Some business owners even wait so long to start growing that they end up hurting their brands and missing the best opportunities for expansion. How can a business owner know when it is time to grow their small business, and how can they minimize the risks involved in doing so?

Let the market or the space set the pace

One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make is to schedule growth rather than to let it happen organically. In some cases, the natural limitations of a business facility or its current operating scale will force development when the time is right. For example, a restaurant owner may need to expand their existing facilities or consider opening a second location for their takeout and catering work when they can no longer manage all of the orders that come in on a daily basis or can’t fit a single additional cook into the kitchen. Those running small manufacturing facilities or a single-person business may have to grow when they can no longer meet customer demand. Another reason to consider growth would be when outside investors see the promise of the business and can help subsidize the development process.

Tips for safe company expansion

Growth is a dangerous time for any business, as rapid expansion can lead to failure. Growing too quickly often means taking on too many additional costs, including the expense of new spaces and new employees, only then to see a decline in demand that makes meeting those costs impossible. Other times, attempts to grow rapidly will mean compromises in the quality of products or services offered, possibly because retaining enough skilled and enthusiastic workers becomes more of a challenge.

Companies need to grow slowly and try to have financial reserves on hand for covering recurring costs before they accept long-term financial commitments like new leases. They may also need to do an in-depth market analysis to validate whether demand will remain consistent or will likely taper off in the future. When companies have the right approach and timing for expansion efforts, they are more likely to continue growing and thriving rather than failing after attempting to expand.

Recognizing when it is time to grow and how to handle the process gracefully can make a big difference for an entrepreneur who is hoping to take advantage of favorable market conditions.