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How to grow your business

As your company starts to expand, you may need to restructure from within. Sara Davies explains where to start

Like me, you may have started your business on a small scale, with just you and the support of family and friends to get it off the ground. This is a lovely way to begin, particularly as everyone on your payroll has a vested interest in your success! But what happens as you grow, and the business needs to expand quickly? Here is my go-to guide to restructuring your company to accommodate these needs. First, make a plan. Ensure you have a clear idea of the direction you would like to take and how you intend to get there. Perhaps you want to expand into a new craft area, add a website to support your bricks and mortar business or even develop an educational aspect to your offer? Whatever your strategy, make sure your employees are clear on it, so that everyone is striving for the same goal.

What's next?

Prepare your infrastructure so you can grow and cope with rising demand. If you are an online retailer, it might be worth upgrading your service provider or retail package. If you are a shop, think about whether you will need to move to a larger space in order to make room for extra stock and supplies. Both might seem daunting at first, but futureproofing your business is an important part of restructuring. Next, re-evaluate your stock count. How much will you need to increase by, where will it be stored and how will you keep track? The systems you have in place now may not work for a larger company, so stay ahead of the game to prevent hitting potential problems. Once you have the infrastructure in place, it's time to look at your workforce. Make sure you prepare existing employees so they have the tools to help you grow. You can train them on anything from inducting new staff to marketing. This is also the time to delegate some of your responsibilities, freeing you up to focus on new areas.

Forging ahead

If employees are well trained it will be easier to structure your workforce. Smaller companies often have staff who do a little bit of everything, but giving everyone clearly defined roles and responsibilities will enable you to identify skills gaps or areas where extra people may be needed. This will be enormously helpful when it comes to recruitment. Once you have a clear map of the workforce and your business capabilities, it's important to take a step back. Look at your company from afar, understanding its strengths and recognising areas for improvement. If you identify something specific that you struggle with, consider taking outside assistance rather than trying to do everything yourself. This could be in the form of freelancers, who could build your website, work on your accounts or give business advice. If you start to hire more staff, you must also become more organised with HR and payroll. Ensure you are well-versed on the legal requirements that a larger workforce brings. It won't be the most fun task, but it is fundamental to your future success.

Sara Davies MBE is a Durham-born craft entrepreneur and founder of Crafter's Companion.

www.crafterscompaniontrade.co.uk

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