When you’re running a business, your watchword should always be ‘growth’. You need to have your plans for the future from day one. Merely surviving isn’t enough. If you’re content to simply stay in place you’ll be overtaken by hungrier, more proactive competitors, or capsized when the market goes through a change and you simply aren’t ready for it. If you expand, you’re no longer reliant on customers in one location, the conditions of a single, local market or the goodwill of a single important client. If you stretch your muscles and expand, you become resilient: if customers in one location aren’t buying, your business can endure. If competitors move into one location, you have others where you’re still dominant. If you lose one big client, you have others to replacement. In business dependency is a weakness, and expanding moves you past dependency on too small a pool of people.
The other side of the coin is that expansion is a risk. If your new location doesn’t have a customer base to sustain your business, it’ll cost you more than you can make back. If you move into a new market which is already dominated by established businesses you’ll find it hard to carve out a niche for yourself. If you’re considering an expansion that takes you across international borders, you’ll need to make sure your business, branding and marketing is a good cultural fit for your target. Truly international businesses need respect the norms of each country they move into and find a way for their cultural identity to relate to the national character.
Any mistake, and you might your expansion isn’t turning a profit, and until it does, it’s draining resources out of the established part of your business. If this goes on too long you could your business failing simply because of an ill-considered expansion.
The key to success is preparation. First of all you need to make sure your business is fit for purpose. Work with financial advisors to devise some tests for you existing business to make sure it’s stable enough not easily overbalance if your expansion doesn’t go to plan. That could be having a certain amount of money in the bank, or hitting a target for revenue across the course of a year or quarter.
You also need to work with a market research company who are in the position to deliver international research for you. They can validate your ambitions to expand or advise you that the time isn’t right. When you’re looking to expand you need market research to chase down the demand that you can exploit for success!