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The numbers stack up and the decision is made: this business is growing and ready to expand. Look out world, here we come. If only life were that simple.

In reality, expansion has been on your mind for some time. Sales are up, so too production and costs. The latter is a key and often overlooked a

spect of a growing business. Unless your controls are robust, costs can spiral, gaining a momentum of their own which is disproportionate to the increases in revenue.

To expand a business through organic and sustainable growth is no small order. Production, marketing, sales, finance; every department of the business must be ready to meet the increased activity whether it is units in boxes, invoices in and out, or telephone enquiries. A creak somewhere in the business leads to crevices elsewhere.

So, what can you do to make sure your business is ready to expand?

1.   Invest in the Cloud!

To this point, your windows server might have comfortably handled all your data and your e-commerce portal barely reacted with a blip. However, your business needs a seamless transition as the volume of entries increases.

The cost-effective method is to move your business software to the cloud. With a package suitable for every business, no matter the size, providers can react quickly to growth, far quicker than waiting for delivery of new software to install on your server.

Equally, you are protected to a far higher degree. Cloud providers anti-virus and malware defences are elite-level software. This is their business, after all, with thousands of sole traders, partnerships and companies relying upon, entrusting them.

2.   Are You Ready For Higher Demand?

An expanding business will be shifting more units; are you ready? More importantly, are your suppliers ready? Do you have the existing credit for increased purchases of raw materials? Can you store them? Do you need a longer lead time for production?

Clear production schedules which allow for flexibility if the product mix changes are vital to success in coping with higher demand levels.

And once the products are made, can they be stored efficiently for shipments? Robust systems which promote a quick turnaround of goods are vital for success.

3.   Can You Cope With A New Product Range?

It follows that a new product range is at the core of an organically expanding business.

While businesses often focus on the success of the new, there is often a spike in orders for existing products as customers take the opportunities to replenish stock levels of complementary products. These spikes can catch production plans out, so flexibility is the key to maintaining efficiency and customer goodwill.

4.   Do You Have The Finances To Expand?

As big a threat to the business as a lack of orders is a lack of funding. Growth for business brings its’ own headaches in the early stages as it does reward.

The reality of any expansion is that a business will see significant financial outlay before any rewards flow. Can you sustain this period or is it too prohibitive at this stage?

It’s vital that all avenues for grants – be they regional or governmental at source – be explored. There are a number of outlets to help and who want you to succeed. So do your research and work out which grants best suit your business.

However, there is a wider economic view of the production chain that desires your success. You may only be a small chink in the national economy but it’s those small chinks which when piled up, make the national success story.

5.   Are You Ready To Say No?

Sometimes, all the indicators point to yes, but you feel that it is wrong. Call it instinct, intuition, gut feeling but if your business is to succeed in expanding, you must be wholly confident in its success.

If you don’t believe it will happen, how will you convince staff, suppliers and customers that you are on the right path?

It’s only natural for some doubt to surface. After all, this is the biggest decision you may take for a while. But belief is vital and if you don’t believe, do you have the courage to say no?

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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