by Leah Rutherford, career development and entrepreneurial writer and blogger at JetFeeds
All successful small business owners – and there are more than 50 million according to the U.S. Small Business Administration! – faces a point when they have to make a big decision either to stay the course or try to expand their business. Unfortunately, many choose the former path rather than taking the latter, even when all signs point to the need for expansion.
This can actually lead to serious problems; if you attempt to keep a small business from growing when it makes practical sense to do so, you can begin to lose market share over time.
The good news is that there are some very specific indicators that serve as signposts that it’s high time to expand. Some of the biggest ones are listed below:
1. You’ve Outgrown Your Office Space.
Is your office beginning to be too cramped because your company has started to take off? Are you and your employees unable to efficiently perform tasks? Unless your workspace is completely unorganized, you probably need to look for a bigger location, or one with a better layout. Yes, you’ll have to spend more on rent and utilities each month, but you’ll be able to pick up more customers to cover the costs.
2. The Proverbial Phone is Ringing Off the Hook… and You’re Not Even Trying!
If clients are finding you, and ultimately seeking your services or products without you lifting a finger, capitalize on your business’s popularity by expanding. You may want to hire some employees – even if only on an hourly or project basis – to gauge whether you want to bring new people on full-time. Oh, and congratulations – you’re on your way to a sweet revenue stream!
3. You Can’t Handle All Your Clients Without Getting More Staff Members.
There comes a point in every successful organization’s lifetime when it’s impossible to handle all customers in an appropriate manner without bringing on new staff members. Rather than risking getting a terrible reputation, or losing long-time clients who have been with you since the beginning, you would be smart to get additional full- or part-time help. If this is the first time you’ve had to recruit people for your small business, take some time to develop job descriptions that can be used again and again. They’ll help you as you interview individuals to fill necessary positions and ensure you bring on the right people.
4. You’re Beginning to Get Tons of Business From Unexpected Markets.
Let’s say you’re in an obscure field like the limestone industry and you’re beginning to get inquiries from unexpected sources or possible clients from other parts of the world. This could be a sign that you need to tap into those areas, and possibly other areas as well. Obviously, you’ll need to do some investigation before taking the leap to move to a different locale or hire part-time or full-time people, but it could be an exciting move. An untapped market is always appealing, especially if it’s a good time to take the plunge. Who knows what could lie behind the next corner?
The secret to being a proactive business owner is to keep your ear to the ground and be ready to change when necessary, even though change can be somewhat unsettling. Without a doubt, you may end up on a road that’s very dissimilar to the one you originally intended to take, but that’s okay! In the end, you will be serving the public… and creating a profit-making business in the process. Plus, you’ll be able to mentor other small business owners who find themselves in a comparable dilemma in the future.
Leah Rutherford is a career development and entrepreneurial writer based in Chicago. To see more of her work, visit her blog JetFeeds.