What It Is
Expansion is nearly always a fundamental goal for smaller organizations. While expansion may be the right strategy, it is likely to coincide with a variety of growing challenges, all of which may negatively affect the organization if not managed properly. Because of these risks, it is vital that small organizations consider the growth opportunity thoughtfully and create a plan for the expansion.
Why It Matters
Expanding your organization in an organized, strategic, and efficient manner increases the probability of success and enduring financial sustainability.
- Determine what level of expansion is right for your organization. Which units, lines, or programs of your organization do you seek to expand? Is there sufficient market demand for expansion?
- Think through logistics. Will you be able to keep up with the competition in the market with your expanded capacity? Will you need a larger facility? Will you need more parking capacity? Will you need to hire new employees or restructure your organizational chart?
- How will your role change? In many cases owners of small organizations must be very hands on within their organization. After expansion, an owner may not be able to maintain the same level of direct oversight they could previously. It is important, then, to bring in good employees, and delegate as needed. This can be a tough transition, but is critical to expansion.
- Identify funding possibilities. For many small organizations finding the loans needed to pull off an expansion project can be a challenge. While these loans do carry some risk associated with them if the business is to underperform, they can still provide a necessary boost to a business to facilitate expansion.
- Determine the time scale of your organization’s expansion. How quickly your organization plans to grow plays a major role as to what kind of financing your organization will need. If, for instance you are looking to expand extremely quickly, a higher level of capital will likely be required in order to scale up. By contrast, expanding more slowly is likely to smooth out and lower costs over the expanded timeline.
- Consider the risk factors. Think through the major factors that could go wrong and how you might address them if they do. For example, if revenues after expansion are lower than expected, how will that affect cash flow? How will you handle deviations from your assumptions about growth?
- Create a time-bound expansion plan. Make a list of the critical actions, assign owners for the different tasks, and plot them out over time so that you can prepare and manage the transition.
- USA Today’s “Ask an Expert” column here offers advice on expanding the smart way.
- The Small Business Association website here provides links to a variety of resources in your state and is a good place to look for funds to expand.
- This article walks through some key questions to consider as you think about expanding.