How do you know that you can grow?

Growing too quickly can be dangerous. Knowing when the moment is right is important. Businesses that invest too much into an expansion and then find that their customers don’t buy into the growth can find themselves in a precarious place.

As a chef, my initial goals were to create fine dining experiences in the township. But the more I got into the more I realised there was a lot more we could do with this concept. There was accommodation, culture and all these other things that we could tap into.

Abigail Mbalo

The first thing you should consider is your current situation: is you cash flow stable enough for the next step. Typically you’ll need to invest to grow, whether it’s in new employees, equipment, product development or marketing. Steadily increasing profits are the best base to launch your next phase from, but in certain situations you may see an opportunity that needs to be exploited immediately and you will need to use your judgement.

Your customers are a reliable indicator: if they want more, it may be smart to listen to them. And listen carefully. Do people walk into your shop looking for products you don’t have? Or, are your customers using your product or service in ways that you can exploit. This is especially true for product usage that runs counter to your own ideas: John Stith Pemberton initially thought Coca-Cola would be medicine!

Is your industry or area on the cusp of something big? Some trends can sweep you to the top if you take advantage of them as they swell. Think of gluten-free food producers as the health movement picked up or new residential blocks near your location that will increase foot traffic. These trends are difficult to predict, but if you have your ear to the ground and you can hear the rumbling you may be well-placed to take advantage.
What got you to where you are now is not going to get you to the next level.

In the next sections we look at two key things: how you need to market better and managing a bigger operation.