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How to Prepare Your Business for Expansion

August 30th, 2012 ::

By Karen Axelton

Do you have big plans for your small business? If you’re gearing up to add a location, expand into new markets, add ecommerce to your offerings or start selling internationally, there are some things you need to consider before you grow. Here’s a shortlist of things to think about to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered.

Your company’s structure. If you need to adjust your legal form of business in order to take on more investors, add partners or meet the requirements of the new state/s where you’ll be doing business, now is the time. Consult an attorney to make sure your company dots all the I’s and crosses the t’s before it’s too late.

Your company’s name. The name that has served you up to this point may not work so well if you’re going national, international or in a different direction. Ask friends, family and customers what they think your current name conveys. If it doesn’t convey what you’re trying to accomplish, brainstorm some new ideas and use surveys and focus groups to test how well they work.

Your company’s trademarks. If you’ve changed your name or logo in preparation for the expansion, make sure you protect them with a trademark. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark office’s Trademark section to learn more about applying for trademarks and to apply online.

Your operations. If you don’t have an operations manual for your business, now is the time to create one. You’ll want to standardize your operating procedures so they can guide you in your growth and ensure that all facets of your business—every location, employee and sales channel—deliver the same customer experience.

Your employees. Expansion requires employees you can trust to do what you’d do when you can’t be there. If you’re not comfortable with delegating, you’re going to have a problem. Start now to develop a strong bench of key managers who can be “you” when you’re not around.

Your financing. Given today’s tight lending environment, hopefully you’re financing your expansion from within. But whether or not you’re seeking outside capital, it’s smart to develop a business plan that will guide your expansion and put the money you’ll need in black and white. Develop a “Plan B” you can follow if the financing you seek doesn’t come through. In fact, develop Plan C and D, too.

Image by Flickr user Tatters:) (Creative Commons)



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