by Phil Dumontet
We’re creatures of habit. You love your regular bar, your regular gym, even your regular machine at your regular gym. You love that it’s always the same and that you know what to expect.
But you also want to be adventurous. You want to claim new territory.
This dilemma is common in business. We become paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, preventing us from moving forward when we should be making bold moves.
It’s important to know when you’re ready to expand and how to begin the process without becoming overwhelmed. But how do you know the time is right?
- You have excess capital. If you’re doing well enough to have excess profits that you can comfortably pour back into the business, you’re likely financially ready to take on new locations.
- You’ve nailed your core competency. What do you do that defines your business? If you’re consistently doing that exceptionally well, it’s time to take your business model elsewhere.
- Your brand is recognizable. If your clients are responding positively to your brand and there are people in other locations ready to do the same, then you know you have the brand recognition and scope needed to expand.
- You have great leaders on your team. You can’t consider expansion unless your managers are strong enough to lead from afar and you trust them with your business. Strong leaders equal strong scalability.
- Your company culture is empowering. Do your employees and supporters have pride in their work? If they do, you probably have a strong company culture, which will be replicable in new locations.
Claim Your Territory
If you recognize all these signs in your business, you’re ready to take expansion seriously. That’s not to say that you should be pioneering across America tomorrow. Taking these passionate (but small) steps is the way to scale:
1. Do Your Homework
And do it well. This includes studying the competition in the proposed location and researching its population, its habits, and what specific area is going to suit your business and give you the best return possible. If you don’t know what makes this new demographic tick, don’t even think about expanding into it.
2. Roll Up Your Sleeves
It’s better to micromanage the expansion at first, then delegate later. Making sure your management structure and operations are fully functioning before you lead from afar will give you peace of mind and ensure that every part of the business is in line with your vision.
Delegation is critical to scalability. Often, the most challenging part of expanding is accepting the fact that you won’t be able to be everywhere at once and your managers and employees will have to run things without you. Being able to trust your team and hand over some of that precious responsibility is critical when it comes to successful expansion.
4. Roll the Dice
Don’t be afraid to take occasional risks. (They’re probably part of the secret to your success so far anyway.) Stick to your core competency and tried-and-true methodology most of the time, but don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas. Some will fail, and some will stick, but you’ll only find out if you try.
5. Learn Lessons, and Reward Yourself
All too often, a business sets itself on the path to expansion without taking the time to learn lessons or sit back and enjoy the fruits of its labor.
These two pit stops are vital for successful scaling. Figuring out what you’ve done well, what can be improved, and the pros and cons of the new location will help you make better moves in the future. And rewarding yourself and your team will give you the energy and pride to fuel your next adventure.
Opening your business up to new worlds isn’t easy. That fear of the unknown will always be there, but by pushing past it, you can plant your company’s flag firmly in new, fertile ground. By knowing when your business is ready to expand and taking solid, confident steps forward, you can take your business from homebody to pioneer at a remarkable pace.
Phil Dumontet is the founder and CEO of DASHED, the leading restaurant delivery service in the Northeast. In 2013, DASHED was recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., ranking No. 119 nationwide and No. 7 in Massachusetts on the Inc. 5000 list. Phil prides himself on the company’s industry-leading delivery times, unique partnerships with top-rated restaurants, and commitment to keeping delivery green.
Elisabeth Norris | Courtesy of Phil Dumontet