How to build a bigger business on a shoestring
There’s a lot of good advice out there about how to start a business on a shoestring. A topic that gets less attention however, is building a bigger business on the same premise. Here are some ideas every established business can act upon.
New vs old
From cloud technologies to crowdsourcing, new businesses have it easier than ever. Lower start-up and operational costs and more opportunities for automation mean that they can be up and running faster and more efficiently (of course, with so many failing, finding success is still difficult proposition).
As an established businesses, you can also take advantage of these developments – even if the task is made harder by the fact that you’re not starting with a blank slate.
So, how can you expand your business on a shoestring?
You only need look at Amazon, eBay or Apple to understand that the future is in automated processes. Automation can deliver faster services that cost less. From purchasing to product support, business models that are geared towards such processes enable rapid growth while keeping costs low.
This is important because keeping costs low as you expand makes your business more profitable while reducing the risk that you’ll grow too fast. It also means you can invest in growth for less.
2. Low-cost tools
With advances in cloud technology, business systems that might have cost thousands of dollars a few years ago can now be obtained for less than $100 a month.
As an established business, there’s more work involved in switching to such systems, but it’s work worth doing.
Whether it’s an online CRM service, Google Apps rather than Microsoft Exchange, or PayPal instead of a custom online payment gateway, the savings made in operating costs can be reinvested in expansion.
3. Smart outsourcing
From web design and development to market research, there are a range of freelancing and crowdsourcing sites that will allow you to add to and develop your business while keeping costs low.
It’s also worth considering ways to outsource your customer support and after-sales services – again making sure that you can support new growth in an economically efficient way.
4. Have enough capital
When pursuing new expansion strategies, it’s important that you have enough capital on hand to see them through. Without deep enough pockets – and the certainty that your business will survive to see the returns – you won’t earn back the dollars you spend.
Make a clear assessment of how much you’re going to need to spend before you’ll begin to see returns on your investment, and if you can’t fund it, don’t start.
5. Keep a light footprint
For SMEs, the two costs that weigh heaviest are staff and rent.
As mentioned, outsourcing and automation can help with the first. When it comes to rent – say for an interstate or overseas expansion – it’s worth investigating other more flexible options, such as virtual and serviced offices, before you enter into a lease.
The best of these services will help to boost your customer service through on-demand receptionist and support staff, while also giving you the appearance of bigger business.
A growing range of technologies and services are helping to lower both costs and risk when it comes to expanding the reach and capabilities of your business.
Make sure to exploit them as part of your growth strategy.