4 signs it’s time to grow your business

Whether you’re self-employed or a budding entrepreneur, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your business succeed. But is there ever a ‘right’ time to grow your business?

Australia sees hundreds of thousands of new businesses enter the market every financial year, and such a busy landscape demands that you stay competitive. In fact, the small business share of total employment in selected industries has fallen from 46% at the end of June 2009 to 44% at the end of June 2017. These statistics show that the small business landscape is a competitive one, and if you own a small business, you need to be aware of the signs that it’s time to grow; or potentially be left behind.

Signs that it’s time to grow your small business

So, what are the signs that it’s time to grow, and what steps should you take once you’ve decided to expand?

Sign #1: You’re turning down work opportunities

Are you consistently pushing back on clients or leaving phone calls unanswered? As stressful as it sounds, this is usually a positive sign that there’s plenty of stable demand for your products or services. And make no mistake: it’s a good problem to have! According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, one of the key challenges faced by small businesses is fluctuations in demand. This could explain why so many small start-ups fail after only a few years.

If your business is regularly turning down offers for work instead of having to beg customers to call or visit, then it’s probably a sign you’re doing something right and it may be time to strike while the iron is hot!

Whether that means cutting back your hours with other jobs or work or bringing on a casual employee or contractor to handle the overflow, expansion is knocking at your door. Will you answer?

Sign #2: You can no longer manage everything yourself

Don’t get this sign confused with the one above. Most business-owners wear multiple hats in a day. In the morning, they’re customer service agents; after lunch, they’re salespeople; and in the early evening, they’re analysing the market looking for ways to beat out the competition.

But what about all the other tasks? Accounting, design, website-building, writing emails… the list goes on, and it can get overwhelming very quickly. If you find you’re wasting time on administrative tasks when your business would be better served with you actually running the business, then it’s time to think about growing.

Small business-owner Matt Godfrey spoke to the ABC recently about his situation. He decided to quit his job as a geologist to open up a dumpling van, and had to take on advice from his accountant, as well as hire staff. "Not over-capitalising and ensuring you've still got sufficient revenue coming in, so as not to over-extend yourself at any time, to get ahead of yourself, and take on employees." He says that balancing his small business budget with the desire to expand is a challenge.

Sign #3: Your customers are demanding more from your business

Is your business booming too much? It’s very possible, and it’s a potential issue that can derail your competitive edge. If you feel like you simply don’t have enough time, that you’re constantly overworked and always feel exhausted, then your customers will absolutely be aware of it.

The problem is that your clients have an expectation of your business. They want the same level of service you’ve always provided them, so if you aren’t meeting those expectations, then they’ll demand you grow your business; or they’ll find someone else to meet their needs.

Sign #4: Your industry is growing

Industries are always evolving, and it’s not enough to be at the top of your game and then rest on your laurels. To keep your business ahead of the pack, you need to keep up, and that means growing your business alongside the industry.

It can be frightening at first, especially when you feel like you’re in unchartered waters. But the alternative may mean losing customers to competitors who’ve taken the leap and expanded their offering.

JobOutlook is offered by the Department of Employment and is powered by statistics from the Census and contains information on job sectors, employment profiles, state-by-state breakdowns, and jobs and industries that are in decline or growing. If you need to deep-dive into a sector or industry, begin your research here.

Your essential business expansion checklist

Reckon it’s the right time to grow your business? If you’re set on spreading your wings and tackling an even bigger market, make sure you:

  • Research the market: Do your due diligence to verify that now is the right time to grow. That means the market is moving in a positive direction, your customer list is growing, and your expected returns are greater than the cost of expanding your business.
  • Prepare your team: If you’re a one-person operation, then it’s likely you’ll need at least another set of hands. And if you already have a small team, get them across all your new expectations of them during (and after) the business expansion.
  • Get business insurance: Every business venture is fraught with risks and challenges, but a good insurance policy can bring peace of mind and take care of things like public liability, professional indemnity, and general business insurance.
  • Reach out to experts: It’s a smart move to seek out external support, especially from other business-owners who’ve gone through the challenges of growth. A mentor could be your anchor when times are tough.
  • Seek new growth opportunities: How exactly do you intend to expand? Look at things like grants, franchising, new innovations and importing/exporting options. It will depend on your particular industry, so research is key!

Growth is an inevitable next step for a successful small business. The trick is timing your expansion right and, most importantly, protecting your business with research, the right insurance, and the right team by your side.

Growing a business is a great time to review your business insurance policy. Choosi can help you compare policies and providers, helping you find one that aligns with your needs and will support you as you take the next step into expansion.