It doesn’t matter whether you started out as a sole trader or whether you launched your business with a group of like-minded pals, the chances are that you’ll want to expand at the earliest opportunity. For your growth plans to be successful, you must ensure that you are not running before you are walking. If you are still in the embryonic stages of business formation without a clear business vision or any financial forecasting to speak of, hold off on the international plans for a few months. Be sensible, and solidify your business plan initially. Only when you are a thriving startup with a loyal customer base, and a buoyant cash flow should you even begin to consider putting the growth feelers out into the market.

Growing your business will be a daunting time. You want to retain as much profit as possible, yet you know that you will have to reinvest and speculate to accumulate. Remember, you had to seek funding when you first launched your company and to expand, you might have to do so again. However, this time you have a pedigree reputation for success behind you. Take a look at how you can grow your business successfully in four simple steps.


Funding

You don’t have to pump money into your business through business loans. Instead, consider alternative and more millennial style routes. Crowdfunding is a great way to allow amateur investors from across the globe to invest in your business entity. They can contribute to your funding request nominally and in return, you could offer them a discount on products or services. You pitch in the same way as you would to your bank manager, only this time it’s all done over the wonderful world of the Internet. Upload a video, be enthusiastic, explain why you need the funding and how your service or product can benefit the world and see if your idea is worthy of investment. With a global reach, your name and brand will have a more prominent visibility online.

Staff

With growth comes more work and potentially more branches and sites for your business. This means you will need to inevitably hire staff. You need to aim for a cohesive team that really buys into the vision of your startup. Forget hiring the candidate that has been to Yale and has a decade’s worth of experience in conglomerates if he’s boring, lacks personality and wouldn’t be a good fit for your company.

Consider a more inexperienced team that you can mold into your perfect employees. The chances are that they will also be cheaper, eager to impress and willing to work hard to secure potential promotions. Ensure that you value your employees and pay fairly. Use specialist software when considering how to calculate employee work hours and ensure shifts are allocated equally. Consider outsourcing your payroll function, as more employees can mean the tedious task of working out 401(k) implications and taxes. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Market Research

Never attempt to expand without testing the market first. Just because your product is ridiculously successful in the United States, doesn’t mean that it will be in Europe. Spend some time at European trade fairs and test the water with your product. You may receive valuable feedback regarding how to tweak your product for the foreign market to make it more profitable. You may even stumble across other ideas to bring to your niche once you’ve conducting some high-quality market research.


Social Media

Exploiting the millennials’ communication method of choice is vital if you are to grow your business successfully. You need a strong online presence, and your Twitter feed, Facebook page and Instagram grid need to be updated regularly with fresh, relevant and readable content. The chances are that a high percentage of traffic will be directed to your blog and website from these platforms so it’s vital that you can convert your visitors and followers into sales.

Use your social media channels for self promotion. After all, it’s free! Online marketing is a skill in itself so consider if you have the necessary in-house talent to achieve the high Google search ranking that you need. At the very least you need SEO and keywording knowledge. If you don’t, then outsource. This will be money well spent.

Growing your business is one of the most exciting aspects of entrepreneurship. Plan well, take your time and maintain the integrity of your business vision at all times. Follow this guide to ensure that you can expand your current startup successfully.