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Resources >   Growth and Operations  >  Expansion  >  

Pay Attention to the Signs: Should You Take Your Business to the Next Level?

Expansion

Pay Attention to the Signs: Should You Take Your Business to the Next Level?

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

small business growth

Many business owners tend to consider their businesses to be their babies, and that’s a fair analogy. You pour your heart and soul into it, grinding  away 24/7, and your business inevitably starts to outgrow its diapers. There comes a point where your  baby will grow up. While you want to preserve all those things you love, you also need to prepare your baby to become a teenager and adult.

The last thing you ever want to do is stunt its progress and maturity. If your business is showing one of these five signs, it’s time to put on your #BIGBOSS  hat and prepare your business to blossom successfully.

1. Working from Home Doesn’t Cut It Anymore

Working from home is the American dream, and nearly half of us achieve it if only part-time. According to a Gallup poll, 43% of Americans work from home at least sometimes. When you start your own business, advanced online tools make working from home a perfect solution to bootstrap your startup. You can’t hold a serious business meeting at home, nor can your garage replace a commercial warehouse.

There are co-working spaces and fractional offices to get you started at a low price with as-needed office services. Businesses with inventory can consider subletting warehouse space or fulfillment by Amazon (if it’s an e-commerce store).

2. Your Current Team Is Overwhelmed with Work 

It’s great when business is booming, and you want to seize every opportunity. Eventually, you get more work than you or your staff can handle. When business is strong is the opportune time to explore options. Whether that is outsourcing some of the work or hiring. If you’re a solo-entrepreneur, it may be time to make that first hire.

Building a team of freelancers, virtual workers, and temps is easier than ever in the 2020s. Approximately 57 million people are a part of this country’s gig economy, and opening your hiring practices to freelancers in other countries gives you an even larger potential hiring pool.

As you continue expanding, temporary workers can become more permanent or get reassigned as necessary. Also consider outsourcing work to other agencies, much like Amazon’s fulfillment network, or how Walmart competes with Amazon leveraging its distribution network and third-party vendors.

3. You’re Still Using Credit Cards to Fund Your Business

According to a recent Nav study, 22% of business owners said that business credit cards were the top resource that they turned to for financing. Another 24% of business owners from that same study say that personal credit cards are their top resource for business financing.

If that sounds like you, it may be time to get a business term loan or business line of credit, which will often have lower interest rates than business credit cards. Even a small saving in interest rate equals real dollar savings that would better serve you, the business owner and the business overall 

These loans are lifelines that provide the necessary liquidity to get your business over the hump or the breathing room to take those next steps towards expansion. If you’ve ever watched the show Shark Tank on ABC, you know that most businesses need capital to grow and thrive. Of course, “the sharks” are called sharks for a reason – those angel investors often take control of your business. 

A business loan can be useful because it won’t dilute the ownership of your business.

4. You’re Constantly Putting Out Fires

Small business owners are often in crisis mode, going from one demanding problem to the next. Mitigating a crisis is normal, , but emergency mode shouldn’t be your everyday routine.in.

By creating streamlined systems and delegating low-stakes decisions, the small business owner can remove themself from many of the day-to-day operations of the business. The classic business book The E Myth is an excellent primer on the subject. Essentially it’s in your best interest to put tools and documented processes in place that automate tasks or make their completion more efficient. 

First,  you’ll want to document all the work that you’re currently doing. Start to pin-point  the operational tasks that take up a lot of your time, like fulfilling customer orders or manually sending out invoices. Then begin to figure out a way that you can streamline those tasks or automate them completely.

Using free or low-cost  project management software like Trello can help small business owners and their teams stay organized. Google has tremendous , free cloud-based tools that enable collaboration for spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. Online accounting tools like Freshbooks are easy options that can save time on daunting financial paperwork. 

Once you decide how to systemize your business, there’s no shortage of tools to help with that. 

5. Your Business’s Sales Rely on Word-of-Mouth  

If you’re still relying on word-of-mouth and other similarly-limited marketing strategies, it’s time to evolve into the modern era. You need a scalable marketing system that can handle your needs and integrate into your point-of-sale, CRM, and inventory systems. In short – you need to build an infrastructure for actively marketing your business to feed it sales.

Inhouse salespeople, digital marketing, public relations, and strategic partnerships are all scalable ways to fill the pipeline. Focus your spending and other resources into targeted campaigns that generate real sales.

Influencer marketing, content marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) are all valuable digital marketing strategies. You can also get your business featured in media, create commercials, event marketing, and more.  Other options include setting up automated email drip campaigns and text message campaigns.

Hire creative individuals  to your team and build up your brand voice. As you develop your sales funnel, you’ll learn the most engaging ways to reach people at every point in their journey and funnel them to you when they’re ready to buy. If you do it right, it can become automatic over time. 

Conclusion

Your business is your  baby, but every baby must eventually grow. Just like you learned to crawl, walk, and run, your business needs to continue to advance , earning experience and leveling up.

If you feed your growing baby the right ingredients, it will grow to be big and strong. Keep plenty of liquidity in your business, and it won’t dry out and get beat by the competition.

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