We don’t want to, but it’s often irresistible.
What is it? Looking around and seeing scores of possible new opportunities to boost our business.
We look at virgin (well at least to us) terrain through rose colored glasses and think wouldn’t it be great. We need to…
…tweak our product so it can help a new demographic
…get Company X to make us a business partner, then the sky would be the limit
…go national – no international
If even half is true, why do so few execute on perceived opportunities?
Breaking into a market is difficult.
Expanding can be an attractive and lucrative proposition. It is, however, also a pivotal point in any business’ life because it requires doubling down on the bet that it is the preferred solution. This increase in risk causes our subconscious, and correctly so, to trigger a mental circuit breaker. You’ll recognize the statements for they usually contain “but if” or its close cousin “but what if”.
- We move by ourselves, it will take years.
- We have a hiccup, will we have enough cash to safely sustain what’s already built?
- I’ve never done this before, how will I know what’s right?
Let’s all thank our subconscious. With so much at risk it is important that we take the time to understand how we are going to avoid jeopardizing current success.
This isn’t a how-to list.
There are tons of books, articles, and blog posts that rundown the different expansion techniques and explain which ones are suited for particular types of businesses. What I want to armor you with are the strategic actions that will help carry you to victory, or keep you from entering into a losing situation.
A simple, yet powerful formula.
- Do your homework. Make sure you first build the infrastructure and resources to adequately support the move. Many try to rely on outside service providers to do virtually all the heavy lifting. Although it is quick and easy to implement, it often leads to its own set of problems; escalating costs, delays, and poor service delivery. Don’t double down on your risk by doing this.
- Timing is everything. Make sure you’re operating at or above industry performance levels for your size business. Proving that you can consistently operate at those levels for several consecutive quarters provides you with managerial confidence and more importantly, the financial heft to work through the challenges expansion will inevitably throw your way.
- Seek out guideposts. First, you can read articles like this (yes, a shameless plug). More importantly, take a look around and find a role model. Someone who has encountered this very challenge and reach out to them. You’ll be surprised how open they are to talking about their great accomplishments and brilliant insights.
Patience is the companion of wisdom.
If you currently can’t meet the above, there’s no shame in waiting. Expansion requires understanding and managing a whole new set of challenges – in essence, a very different business. Being a great business development professional means that you know when to pullback and wait for the right signals.