Growing Up - Knowing How And When To Expand
By Beth Holmes
One of the biggest challenges facing any small business is how and when to expand. Beth Holmes looks at the factors you need to consider if you want to grow your business.
Strengths and weaknesses
“One of the best ways for a business to see if it’s the right time to expand is to do a SWOT analysis, taking an objective view of assessing the business, its resources and its environment,” says Sara Lee from the Federation of Small Businesses.
SWOT analyses involve looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Says Lee: “They’re a good way to understand your business...
...and the market in which it operates. They will also show potential investors that all the options and factors that can influence the success of a business have been thought through.”
The importance of marketing
Regularly taking a step back and looking at the market in which you operate should help you to spot any new opportunities, argues Lee. However, research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Deloitte found that 49 per cent of companies are not using customer or marketing measures to inform board-level decision making, which, when you’re thinking of expanding, can be foolhardy.
“Marketing must be an integral part of business strategy to maintain growth,” says Mark Blayney Stuart, head of research at the Chartered Institute of Marketing. “It can lead this growth through intelligent use of customer and market analysis to inform strategic development. Everyone within an organisation must therefore be marketers, to ensure that growth becomes a clearly focused and fully integrated philosophy across the business.
“Marketing should be thought of as a two-way process, one which allows you to talk to your customers rather than at them,” he continues. “[i]By knowing your customers better, you can be sure that you can pre-empt their needs and... continued on page two >