April 14, 2014 | Jennifer Goodwyn
Growing any business is a constant challenge and, chances are, today's economic climate is making things more challenging than ever. If you've been using the same business techniques for some time and have found your business growth is at a stand-still, these cost-effective solutions can help take your business and its performance to new heights, without running the risk of financial ruin.
1) Hire Affordable, Yet Effective Resources
If you cannot afford to hire full-time employees but are looking to expand your workforce, you still have options. Many college students must complete an internship before they're able to graduate, so contacting your local college may be a good way to find qualified and affordable employees.Typically, interns work for free or next-to-nothing, in exchange for college credit. The drawback? Limited, short-term availability. If you're looking for something a bit more permanent, consider using independent contractors and freelance labor. You can pay these employees based on the amount of work they complete (regardless of how long it takes them to complete it), and do not have to worry about providing benefits which would be expected from full-time employees.
2) Utilize Virtual Offices
Virtual offices are a great way to maintain a professional image while avoiding the overhead costs associated with leasing a full-time office location. By utilizing a virtual office service, you'll have a professional mailing address and receptionist who will answer calls professionally and in your company's name. Depending on the type of package you choose, you may also have access to state-of-the-art office equipment and professional meeting rooms at only a moment's notice. Most virtual office services are offered on a month-to-month basis, providing maximum freedom for companies to be flexible when their current situation changes.
3) Partner with a Complementary Service
Strategic business partnerships allow small businesses the opportunity to grow their customer base and improve their overall business model. But, reaching a new audience is only one of the many reasons for forming partnerships. A new partnership could mean your business will gain access to new products, block a competitor, or increase overall customer loyalty. Finding businesses to partner with is as easy as mapping out a plan, determining prospective partners, and pitching your ideas to them. If all goes according to plan, they'll be referring you more business, and you'll be doing the same for them. It's truly a win-win situation for both parties.
4) Sponsor Tradeshows & Events in Your Community
Tradeshows are a great place to advertise, especially if the tradeshow falls in line with your business. For example, if you're a wedding photographer, sponsoring a wedding convention is a great way to reach a qualified audience. Expositions allow your business to exhibit and demonstrate its products to other businesses, but sponsoring one can elevate your image as a leader in the market. On a smaller scale, sponsoring local events in your community is a great way to reach the audience that's “right next door”. Some companies even offer discounts for locals; an easy way to show community pride and establish customer loyalty.
The Bottom Line
Imagination and planning are the keys to implementing a business expansion initiative. Each business is different, so spend some time contemplating the above and think about whether or not they're appropriate for your business. Once you've identified possible ways to expand, perform a little market research and learn more about the expansion opportunity. In today's market, it's important to keep your eyes and ears open for potential opportunities.