Tips on how to expand to other markets, grow your business, and set yourself up for acquisition.
Check out my thoughts on this by reading below or watching my response on Youtube
A question that often comes up when working with entrepreneurs is how to grow the business into other markets without needing to constantly travel and be present 24/7.
Is your goal to expand your geographic footprint, open more locations, and maybe even eventually sell your company? Learning how to delegate, hire, and build relationships are essential components to achieving this goal and can be achieved by following these 3 steps.
ONE: Client referrals/Social proof
To grow your small business and expand to other markets, testimonials and social proof are key. I was recently talking to one of my clients about his niche commercial cleaning business and the importance of receiving testimonials and social proof from clients.
One way to do this is by setting up a Yelp account. Yelp reviews will help you build a list of testimonials that will improve your credibility as you expand into markets where people don’t know you. To some, this seems obvious, but I’m surprised at how many business owners don’t do this. I’d also recommend setting your business up for Google reviews.
But you can’t just set it up and forget about it – you have to be proactive in asking for feedback and you need to make it easy for your customers to write reviews. Not everyone is a writer, not everyone is social media savvy, and most people are really busy. Therefore, you must have the links ready to send to them, with instructions, so they can easily click and review your business. It also helps to give suggestions of some things that they might mention in your reviews.
Then, share the testimonials on your website and anywhere else you promote your services. You can take this a step further by hiring a virtual assistant to create graphics for the testimonials to post on Instagram.
Depending on what industry your business is in, collecting feedback and testimonials from clients and customers will be a key to your success when looking to grow. Social proof is one of the quickest ways to get a potential new customer to trust you.
TWO: Let your clients be your guide
When you are ready to expand to other markets or build in new cities, look to leverage the business that you already have.
In addition to collecting testimonials and feedback, leverage your existing market through connections. That’s how I expanded several of my companies into new cities and states.
One of my companies, OnStaff, started in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles as a temp staffing company. At the time, many of our clients were local and others were national clients. Our growth started by expanding into other areas near our hub in Southern California. We focused on serving our local clients and nurturing those relationships to get our clients the best result and build social proof.
After opening in the Los Angeles area, client demand led us to expand into Orange County, as we were able to leverage those relationships we had spent time building.
As we continued to expand in California and establish hubs in a few cities, we were then able to use that example as a blueprint to grow into other states. At this stage of our expansion, we focused on building hubs in states where there was a demand for our services from our clients with national footprints. In Florida, we started in Orlando and then leveraged our network to build into Ocala and Tampa.
This strategy led us to successfully open 12 offices around the country.
Letting clients be the guide worked with my other company, Winnie & Kat, as well. As a women’s clothing social selling business, I started where I lived in California and expanded based on demand through my network who had connections with similar interests in other states. This led to an expansion into Detroit, where friends of friends had heard about the business and developed an interest. By letting the customers lead, we expanded to 47 states in less than three years and doubled sales year-over-year.
THREE: Use agencies to staff up in the first few months.
This can be done through hiring a full-time employee, but a great place to start is through contract work or leveraging staffing agencies.
Agencies are not just for white-collar workers. There are companies like peopleready, for example, that provide workers who can do everything from janitorial to construction. Staffing agencies not only relieve you of the time commitment that it takes to interview and screen new employees. They can also provide background checks and verify employment eligibility.
By using a local staffing agency, you don’t need to worry about setting up payroll in that state. The only fee you would need to worry about is the contractor’s hourly rate. Staffing agencies also must handle workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, although you will want to check with a lawyer about your own company’s responsibility to your contract workers and understand if you fall into a co-employment situation.
Most staffing agencies have a “contract-to-hire” option so that you can bring the person on as a full-time employee when you’re ready. Usually, there is either a fee to do this or a waiting period, or both. This is a great way to grow your business without a huge up-front investment, and then decide to commit to a full-time employee when you’re ready.
As you grow your business and start to outsource or delegate work, another common concern that comes up is quality. How do you maintain the quality of your work when you’re no longer the one doing all that work?
There are many different ways to answer this question, but the blunt and honest truth is, it’s hard. Maintaining high-quality work is essential for the success of your business as you grow, but things will not always be perfect and mistakes will be made. In the long run, any mistakes or setbacks are largely outweighed by the benefits of investing in support to grow your business.
Part of scaling is letting go. You cannot grow if you’re not able to give up certain things and delegate. And ideally, you hire somebody who is better than you at certain things and can elevate the business even more.
There is an activity from Entrepreneurial Operating System called “Delegate to Elevate.” This is a 5 step process you could do right now to get clarity around where you’re feeling stuck and where you are ready to delegate to grow your business.
Last but not least, let’s talk about acquisition. How do you set up your company for an acquisition?
Even if you are not looking to get acquired for years down the road, the best time to start preparing is now. Start by building relationships and set the tone now for your 5+ year plan.
A lot of people I know that acquire businesses do so with business owners already within their network. Some ways I have built relationships are through volunteering as a speaker at an event or conference, networking through social media, and opening up my calendar to conversations with new connections. It is also incredibly valuable to build relationships and friendships with entrepreneurs in your space, even if they’d be considered competitors. You never know who may be your next big business opportunity!
Growing your business can be tough, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. I coach entrepreneurs on how to show up in their own entrepreneurial path in the way that best fits them and their unique needs and goals. I know the rush, and the fear, of creating a business from scratch. I’ve scaled from zero to million-dollar weekly sales. I’ve been through 5 exits and I sold one of my startups to a public company after the deal fell apart 6 times.
First-time entrepreneurs needed a place where they could go to get experienced-based coaching, to learn about tried and tested tools, to receive honest feedback, and to have someone hold them accountable every step of the way. I decided that I was the person to do it and so I got to work.
I use a straightforward approach to teach entrepreneurial tools and systems that work.
Book a free introductory call here to see if you’d be a fit to work with me, and get early access to all of my content