While for some growing a business may just mean ramping up the numbers through customer loyalty programmes, for others it can be more about the present and future benefits of developing a balanced portfolio.

And while such strategies may naturally evolve – for example when a popular ‘farm fresh’ product eventually becomes a ‘brand’ in its own right – there are a variety of ways to achieve such transitions.

Diversification

The decision to diversify may arise as a result of looking at the future prospects for your present trading profile. It may have also been prompted by external innovations – for instance, has the demand for online ordering increased significantly recently?

A way to make an assessment of if your business is ready to diversify, is to research the competition to see what they offer that you don’t – or even is there a gap in the market because of what your local rivals are not doing?


See also: Five key steps before diversifying your farm business


Consider a collaborative effort

Many businesses achieve mutual growth through partnerships. So, if you provide organic green produce and are keen to develop a farm shop, this could mean partnering with a local producer of organic meat who is also looking to expand.

Doing your homework early is always important when considering such a proposition. In essence, you’re looking to create a win-win situation for both companies.

It’s important to create realistic goals with potential partners and for you to both understand the mutual benefits of the partnership. By doing this, you are setting a clear path for both of your businesses to grow and develop in parallel with each other.

Where there’s some (understandable) caution and uncertainty in partnering with another business, it can often be sensible to test the waters first with some kind of cross-promotion. For example, reciprocal discounts could be offered by your riding school and also the local tack shop.

Acquiring an off-the-peg solution

Buying another company is undoubtedly the quickest way to grow. However, you will also need good professional advice to avoid making an expensive mistake.

But, where you plan to expand into new markets, for instance by adding a retail shop and café alongside a working farm, it can often prove very cost effective to acquire another company simply for that purpose.

Purchasing a separate company means acquiring new expertise and skilled personnel, which will give your planned expansion a much better chance to hit the ground running.


See also: Businesses for sale


Company acquisition can also be a less risky way to bring new technology into your business. And in addition, adding another company to your portfolio will invariably increase your own market share.

Develop a franchise

If you have a mature business model – say for something like an open-air adventure business for children – you may wish to consider franchising as a means of expansion.

The core requirement for making such an arrangement work profitably is to have a business that can be easily replicated.

In these circumstances, you can gain additional income from the previous hard work you put in to develop your own tried and tested system.

With franchising, the work doesn’t stop there. You will need good legal advice to draw up a franchise agreement, you must be absolutely certain you can maintain the quality and standards already created when you operate via franchisees, and you must be sure you can meet the continuing requirements for training and on-going support.

The importance of marketing

Before even considering your growth plans, you should review your present marketing strategy.


See also: Seven essential steps of an effective marketing plan


It may be that with some tweaking, you could introduce improvements you have overlooked and achieve growth that way.

You will also need to reflect on how you may need to adjust your marketing to accommodate your new plans for the business. And once you definitely decide you want to go ahead, remember to let all your customers know about it – before, during, and after the launch.

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