If you don’t mind us paraphrasing Gordon Gekko, growth is good. One of the best ways to showcase and put that growth to work is to expand your business. Depending on the type of business you run, a responsible expansion step would either be to open a second location or to branch out into a new city. Second local sites are best for retail and service based businesses, like clinics, etc. For firms that are consultancy or tech-based, opening an office in a new city is the next big step.
Even if you have a boundless budget, opening new offices in a new city is going to be a large macro-style project. If your budget is limited, it gets even more challenging. Here are a few tips to help your company expand successfully without having to worry about accidentally bankrupting yourself along the way.
Fake It Til You Make It
If you work in consultancy or web based industries, setting up an office in a new city could be as simple as simply setting up a mailing address in that location. This is much easier than it used to be. Today, when you opt into a virtual address plan in the city of your choice you’ll be given a street address that you can use for business purposes. Even better, these locations will actually accept mail and documents that are sent to you. You can have that mail scanned in or forwarded to your actual location. It’s a way to build a presence in a new city before you rent any physical space there.
Rely on Your Team
Working with folks from across the globe? Choose a team member to lead your “offices” in their city. Sure those offices might be located in their spare bedroom for now, but your clients don’t have to know that. Having someone within the city who can meet with clients in person is critical to establishing credibility. This buys you some time while you build profits to make it easier to afford office space and a fleshed out workforce in the new city.
Expand Your Base
If you have your own retail operation, and you’ve already expanded into one or two other local spaces, your next move is to move into a new city. The best way to figure out where to go is to open up your retail operations online. Let people order goods from you online and make sure you ship that inventory out to them promptly. This helps to introduce your brand to a new location without your having to go further than your local post office.
Track your online order data for a year or so. The city you ship to the most is where your next location should be.
Can you franchise your business? This is a great way to expand all over the state and even the country without your having to foot the bill entirely by yourself. Retail stores and service companies can all be franchised. Even with your hopeful franchise location owners, this method will be expensive, though, so tread carefully.
The Legal Stuff
Different states have different laws in place for what type of businesses they allow to run and where. Some states will require you to have a physical presence in the state before you can file for a business registration there. Zoning regulations and restrictions vary. Hiring a lawyer can help you navigate the red tape involved with expansion is definitely worth the dent in your budget. The last thing you want to do is violate laws across state lines and make the FBI mad at you!
Remember, go slowly here. Open one new location at a time, and only as you can afford to do so. It’s good to be excited and to have a 50 state plan, but going state at a time will help you build your brand, increase your profits, and hone your expansion expertise. These tips will help you plot out your course as you go from local star to national or even global phenomenon.