It’s safe to say that, for most entrepreneurs, their major hope for the future is that they will be able to facilitate their small business growth. Growth is how we define success in the western hemisphere. If a business remains largely as it has always been for years on end, this tends to be a bad sign. Small business growth should be one of the major goals when you start your online business, and when you reach your monthly income goal, set a new higher one.
Of course, this is easier said than done. There is a huge difference between a small business and a medium business; it’s not quite the natural progression that many people expect. A small business is more nimble, easier to manage, and definitely easier to strategize for.
By the time you’re seeking to move into the next business size category, you have to deal with all the issues of a small business– and the thousands of other issues that a medium business has to deal with. It’s not an easy step, an inevitable progression that all businesses will reach; it’s a step you have to knowingly and carefully undertake.
The question then has to be asked: how do you expand a small business into becoming larger? What are the key differences between small enterprises, and those that have grown to a larger size? Below, we’ll explore the most common differences between small and medium businesses. If you read through and think you could handle the steps you’d need to take to upgrade your business size, then business expansions could be a realistic goal for your future.
Small businesses tend to “make do” when it comes to the technology they use. Using a range of basic Office software, the Google suite, and cloud services like Dropbox, they manage to make do. It’s not the most cohesive usage of technology, but it tends to be enough to meet the needs of a small business. You can allow employees to use multiple accounts, use cloud-based platforms, and keep your business secure with software that isn’t that different to how people generally manage their personal affairs.
Medium businesses simply can’t “make do” when it comes to software. While they may still rely on open-source software, for the most part, they will need to make the change to dedicated software which is designed specifically for their business. If the idea of private cloud hosting sounds confusing, then see Tierpoint.com for info; also take the time to do your research on companies that can build custom software for your business, because this is an additional step that you’re going to need to take.
The reason that medium businesses require such an upgrade in their software needs is simple: reliability. When you’re a small business, you — by the very nature of your company — are only providing products/services to a small number of clients. By the time your business is reaching into the medium business leagues, you’re responsible to a great numbers of clients. The more clients you’re responsible to, the less you can afford a software glitch– something that is far less likely when you have your own, dedicated, customized systems.
So if you’re looking to expand your business, you’re definitely going to need to invest in better, more reliable technology and software solutions.
#2 – Social Marketing Strategy
Any business owner worth their salt knows that social media is important. That’s why all social media platforms are packed with company accounts, meaning that thousands of brands are always competing for customer attention.
There’s a very good chance that you know all of the above, and that’s why your small business has social media accounts. You’ve had all of those ticked off for years, and you monitor and maintain them as regularly as you possibly can. For your small business growth to be successful, a decent social media presence is pretty much a basic necessity.
However, just having social media accounts isn’t enough for a medium business. Posting the occasional updates and picking the right hashtags might be all a small company needs, but a medium-sized business needs to have a social media strategy. A strategy that will take into account the following areas:
- Knowing the best times to post to each social media platform
- Understanding which type of content works best on each platform, rather than just posting the same information and/or images duplicated across each platform
- Having a coherent strategy to gain more followers
- Creating a social media advertising budget, and knowing how to use it wisely
Making plans to engage with customers on social media rather than just posting at them; this can be things like hosting giveaways, competitions, or even just fun things like “caption this” images.
If you’re reading through all of those social media requirements for a medium business and thinking that keeping an eye on these areas sounds like a full-time job, well, that’s because it is. The vast majority of medium-sized businesses will have a social media manager; a person whose main responsibility is managing social media content, marketing, and schedules. This is definitely an area you have to be willing to invest in if you want your business to grow.
#3 – A Three Year Plan
A small business growth plan needs to be in place for the future, but let’s be honest: not many small businesses actually have one! You might have a general idea about the direction that you want to travel in, but that’s very different from having a formal plan.
By the time you grow to a medium-sized business, you have to be ready to plan for the future. A formal, three-year plan — that you share with your bank and all investors — is a necessity. Ideally, you will also put together a five-year plan, and have a number of core ideas about how you’re going to reach that point. With your business expanding, taking on new business, and recruiting more staff, you can’t just have vague ideas about where the future lies– you have to have concrete decisions made and plans formulated.
#4 – Improved Office Communication
It is natural to assume that as small business growth occurs, so will your office space needs, unless you find a way to outsource everything you don’t want to do yourself. This tends to be a necessity; you will be taking on more staff to help your business push forward, so they will need somewhere to work. This will likely mean you’re going to have to move your business into new premises, truly embracing what it means to be a medium-sized business in a quite literal sense.
This expansion is a good thing, but it also brings with it its own unique problems. Perhaps the most damaging issue that a medium-sized business will experience is a breakdown in communication.
When you’re just a small business, you don’t need to worry too much about inter-office communication. You’re working in a smaller space; you could probably shout instructions and your entire workforce would be able to hear them. This instantaneous communication is one of the major benefits of running a smaller company.
However, as your small business growth begins to happen, your workforce is going to be spread through those new, larger premises. That means that you have to get your communication spot on, because you can no longer rely on news to spread organically. It means you will need to coordinate team meetings, require staff to acknowledge they are all on the same page, as well as updating your office equipment to allow for rapid communication.
All of these differences tend to represent a huge shift in the culture of how you do business, which can be tough to adjust to. By the very nature of expansion, you will become more divorced from the minutiae of your business, becoming more of an overseer than someone who is involved in all of the nuts and bolts. Accepting this is inevitable is necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fairly difficult for a previously hands-on entrepreneur to have to accept– so be ready to feel a little sad about the change.
The progression from small to medium business is a very deliberate one; it won’t happen organically. You will have to take the bull by the horns — so to speak — and seek to usher in small business growth into a much larger business, rolling with the inevitable differences that such a change will make to your business environment.
You’re also going to have to be ready to spend more, investing in the future of your business. If you have previously been rather parsimonious with the purse strings, this may be difficult to adapt to– but the simple fact is that all of these changes don’t come cheap. If you don’t have the business capital to invest, then you could always look for an investor who has the funds to help realize the size changes you hope for your business.
Overall, expansion is difficult, complex, and can even be emotionally challenging. If expansion is an endeavor that you choose to undertake, you’re acknowledging that you might be in for something of a rough ride– but remember, your business is going to be all the stronger for it, furthering your dreams of huge business success.