Startup leaders are always about making contingency plans for when things go wrong. Preparing for the worst is great.
But let’s have a mindset shift for a quick minute. What happens if it all goes well?
If the company surpasses its quarterly goals, raises more funding than expected, increases market share by some stroke of luck and genius marketing tactics?
In business, there are three possible outcomes. Your company either grows, declines or remains stagnant. And you must constantly think, “what next?” regardless of your outcome.
This article outlines ten practical strategies to prepare your company for future growth. Read on to discover how to implement each one.
How to Prepare your Company for Expansion
(1) Establish your company’s current performance
Some business owners neglect the past and present when preparing for the future. However, understanding where you are at the moment helps you figure out the direction you want to grow in.
When defining company performance, key areas to evaluate are profitability, employee output, customer service, and company culture.
Here are some questions to guide your C-suite team:
- What strategies led your business to this point?
- What are your strong suits?
- What are the customers saying about you? (feedback, polls and customer interviews)
- How engaged are employees?
- How does the company fare in comparison to your competitors?
Understanding these KPIs will help you identify potential opportunities and hiccups that may deter your expansion. You can then build upon the data to realign your business priorities and adjust your growth strategy if necessary.
(2) Outline business goals
To prepare for something, you must be able to recognize it, hence the importance of goal-setting.
Having established your company’s current performance, decide on what growth means for your company.
That decision will inform your business goals and, in turn, determine the rest of your expansion strategy.
Whether your goals are doubling revenue, increasing brand awareness, improving employee output or upgrading customer service, naming them gives you a clear focus on the next steps and how each department can weigh in.
(3) Draft a project execution plan (PEP)
According to Indeed, a PEP is a “document outlining how a team (or organization intends to accomplish its objectives.”
It is similar to a business plan but only tailored to one project at a time.
I recommend that your project execution plan should include:
- Business objectives
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis
- Key personnel details (responsibilities of departments involved)
- The specific timeline for each milestone
- Financial plan
Having a PEP keeps everyone on track to ensure a seamless expansion.
(4) Build a formidable team
While anticipating growth, you must understand that the people who led a $1 million company cannot adequately pilot a $20 million business without additional help.
Focus on filling out vacant positions in areas you want to upgrade as you scale— a VP of Marketing to supercharge your promotion, a product manager to supervise the development process, additional customer service agents to reduce resolution time, etc.
More importantly, hire team members who are experienced and dependable.
(5) Standardize your processes
Forbes spells out that having the right tools, systems and processes in place makes scalability even more seamless. Nothing could be truer.
Process standardization provides a concrete framework for employees to make decisions without seeking a manager’s attention. It also helps departments automate recurring tasks for better output in record time.
The customers are happy, employees are satisfied, and word of your company’s swift operations continues to spread.
With the right workflow, the organization can easily take on more responsibility at any point.
(6) Keep your funding sources on standby
To launch an effective expansion strategy, funds are needed, no doubt. But how do you acquire additional funding after obtaining the initial startup capital?
According to Entrepreneur, it’s important to maintain solid relationships with your funding sources because growth financing can be just as difficult to obtain. The faster you grow, the more funds you’ll need to;
- expand your service range,
- hire and train additional staff,
- refine your product.
When you have primary and secondary funding sources on standby, it’s easier for them to buy into the vision than to start recruiting new investors altogether.
(7) Prioritize customers
In Zendesk’s CX Trends study, 64% of business leaders said customer service positively impacted their company’s growth.
You launched your company hoping to serve a specific demographic. Those people are the reason you’re still in business.
Prioritizing customers involves various responsibilities like:
- providing a user-friendly product/service up front
- requesting their feedback
- incorporating their feature requests into product enhancement
- resolving tickets swiftly
When you go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction at every stage, they will let the world know. And if your service is terrible, bad news spreads like wildfire.
In Hubspot’s words, “happy customers are the biggest marketing opportunity.”
(8) Boost employee morale
Imagine a day without your employees. All business operations from product development to onboarding to customer support, would cease instantly. You’d no longer have a business to run.
That’s why founders must create a space for employees to thrive. Equip them with the tools, resources and policies that make them feel like valued members of your organization.
Not only does employee management reduce turnover rate, it also improves their productivity significantly.
To avoid losing top talent in critical times, take care of your people, and they will do the same for your business.
(9) Consult experts
Founders who anticipate future growth should interview other C-suite executives who have led companies through expansion. From their experience, you may discover significant opportunities in areas you may have overlooked while drafting your project execution plan.
(10) Own the narrative
It was from Gary Vee that I first heard the concept of every company being a media company that happens to sell other products.
The meaning behind it is that media is the primary way to push your products to the right audience.
The media influences how investors, customers, and other members of the public perceive your brand. Instead of waiting for people to rave about you (earned media), start telling your story.
All content created in-house, be it a blog post, infographic, press release, video, or tweet classifies as owned media. And these forms of media your digital team puts out should align with your vision for the organization.
It’s always good news for entrepreneurs when their company undergoes exponential growth. However, fumbling such an opportunity is easy when you’re unprepared to handle the momentum.
With some or all the strategies described above, you can start laying the groundwork for growth and ensure your company keeps operating optimally when it finally happens.