Businesses need to do more than just “maintain” to achieve long-term stability and success. We hope these seven ways to expand your business – locally and overseas – inspire some proactive ideas.
1. Add new products or services
Target a new group of customers by adding new products and services or adapting your existing offering to new market demands.
Many businesses have successfully changed their offering during the pandemic.
Restaurants, for example, started selling frozen meals when the lockdown prohibited them from taking seated diners. Clothing manufacturers made personal protective equipment.
Ethiopian Airlines converted its passenger jets to cargo planes so it could keep planes in the air despite travel restrictions.
2. Determine the international markets that suit your brand
Targeting international markets is a great way to expand your business, but choose carefully which countries to target.
Ensure the infrastructure and applicable legislation allow you to offer the same services and quality you do at home.
It may also be useful to consult the Ease of Doing Business Index. This gives a simple indication of how much red tape, delays and difficulty you might encounter when starting and running a business in different countries.
3. Consider new ways of selling
Look for new platforms where you can sell your products and services.
E-commerce is increasingly popular as fewer people want to risk crowded malls and offices. You might also consider third-party logistics and e-commerce sites (3PL), which sell and deliver on your behalf.
Look into becoming a supplier to other shops and businesses if you need to scale back or close your retail shop or premises.
Moving online and switching to supplier status could save you paying rental, wages and other overheads.
4. Offer different payment options
Consider offering other means of payment to attract new customers and to retain loyal customers.
Cash-only businesses can start accepting credit cards with services like Yoco and SnapScan. Larger businesses can consider accepting payments through PayPal or cryptocurrencies.
Offer existing clients better payment terms. If cash payments aren’t possible, consider service exchanges to maintain healthy relationships with suppliers.
Even lay-bys can keep your cashflow buoyant and more affordable for customers.
5. Don’t stop marketing your business
Expanding your business can mean expanding your brand. During an economic downturn, it’s important to keep people talking about your business.
Then when the economy gets moving, you won’t have lost your reputation and name.
It’s worth considering ways to market your business to keep people aware of your brand.
Also communicate changes to your clients. New services or products can’t help if people aren’t aware of them.
6. Spot gaps in the market
Identifying gaps in the market isn’t easy – but finding them can uncover significant opportunities.
These gaps may exist because of new trends, changes in demand or changes to legislation.
A good example from the pandemic was the sudden, urgent need for foot-operated sanitiser dispensers.
Pay attention to buying trends, keep track of what competitors are doing and listen to feedback from customers.
7. Network with other businesses and entrepreneurs
Networking has never been so valuable. It can help you find businesses and entrepreneurs to partner with, expand your target market and help build your brand.
Partnerships are a practical way for businesses to adapt.
Take the example of Bottles, an alcohol delivery app that partnered with Pick n Pay to start delivering groceries during the hard lockdown and alcohol ban. Bottles already had the delivery infrastructure; it just needed a new product to deliver.
At The Workspace, we offer affordable, fully serviced offices and coworking, and all our members have access to meeting rooms, boardrooms and a range of business services.
We aim to help South Africans expand their businesses through affordable, fully equipped workspaces; our support services; online resources; and networking events.