Ready, Set… Grow
July 09, 2019 | BY Simcha Felder
By definition, an entrepreneur is a creator, a producer, an investor. So, it’s no surprise that no matter the size of their business, entrepreneurs yearn for expansion. While it might seem like today’s market is dominated by the Amazons and Facebooks of the world, the reality is that 99.7 percent of all businesses in the United States are considered “small,” totaling 28.8 million organizations with less than 100 employees. Although they likely all share the dream of growth at some point, expansion is a very risky proposition.
While 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 50% fail in their fifth and that number rises to 70% in the tenth. These Bureau of Labor Statistics are consistent over time, suggesting that year over year economic factors do not hold outsize significance over business survival. Strategic planning does, according to Crown Sterling Ltd. CEO Robert Grant. That is because our competitors, perhaps more than any other factor, affect our outcomes. To win at business you’ll need skills, but more so you’ll need to out-strategize the other players in the game.
“Expanding a company doesn’t just mean grappling with the same problems on a larger scale,” writes Sharon Nelton in Nation’s Business. “It means understanding, adjusting to, and managing a whole new set of challenges—in essence, a very different business.” For those leaders who identify a need or avenue for growth there are important things to consider. Effective research, long range planning and a flexible budget are necessities.
A strategic plan answers some important questions, namely, what am I going to achieve by expanding and how will I get there? Some goals may include meet existing customer demands, expand into new markets or increase brand recognition. Your plan will ensure you don’t sacrifice the ultimate goal of increasing sales by sacrificing your current ones.
What do I know and not know about this new venture? Venturing into previously untapped markets is sure to unveil the unexpected. Best Buy didn’t catch on in China because big, bright stores just didn’t capture customers the way lower Chinese prices did. Starbucks underestimated its competition in Israel and bowed out of all their stores after two years. Small businesses should bear in mind that doubling the size of your company tends to increase your bills by a factor of six – budget accordingly keeping in mind the soft costs, like upgrading financial and record keeping software and communication systems.
Plan ahead but strike quickly; if you’ve anticipated a good move chances are that your competition has, as well. He who strikes first, has the advantage. Entrepreneurship is all about pushing forward and playing a step ahead of your opponent is often all it takes.
Play to win.