August 06, 2020 | Marlin Staff Writer

One element has more impact on business than any other you’ll ever encounter, and that’s timing. Timing is a vital variable in a launch. It’s everything to hiring, marketing, product improvements, and even customer service. Nothing, however, relies more on timing than business growth. A day late and a dollar short, as they say.

But with 92% of businesses having experienced negative effects as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you might be left wondering whether the timing will ever be right to expand a business.

There probably is a time for growth on your horizon, but the key will be knowing what signs to look out for. Growth initiatives almost always hinge on the numbers, so you need to determine the business impact of COVID-19 on your organization. Take a look at your financial statements and compare them to last year.

Of course, the numbers are only part of the equation. You also need to look at how staffing has changed, whether customers now rely on competitors, and which expenses you’ve cut. Many small businesses reduced their marketing efforts during the pandemic, and you’ll need to consider this financial expense when developing your strategies for business growth as things return to normal — or as close to normal as possible.

Strategies for Business Growth

Post-COVID-19 strategies for business growth will vary from one business to the next. No cookie-cutter approaches apply, but there are few things to keep in mind when determining whether it’s the right time to set the expansion mechanisms in motion. The following are often the best places to start:

1. Monitor industry trends.

If your particular market is on the rise, business growth — and small business growth, at that — will be a whole lot easier. It’s important that you stay up-to-date with market forecasts and general consumer behavior. But don’t rely solely on industry reports and growth projections to inform your decisions.

Do your own research by tracking industry trends, potential new regulations, and proposed tax plans. Use this data, along with analytics associated with your specific business, to make realistic projections. Besides, if you plan to secure funding for business growth, investors will want this information.

2. Understand the demand.

The business impact of COVID-19 hasn’t been all bad, especially for delivery services, cleaning services, liquor stores, game makers, or even drive-in movie theaters. Once the pandemic has passed, however, you must make an educated guess on whether demand will wane.

Small business growth is near impossible when the demand isn’t there. If you bring in more business than you can handle, consider it writing on the wall for future roadblocks. Also, make sure this demand is long-term. How much is coming from repeat business? How much of it is new? Beyond that, can you attribute the demand to something fleeting? Once you feel you can reliably predict demand for your company’s offerings, you’ll be able to make strategic decisions about growth.

3. Revisit your expenses.

If you have enough room in your budget to invest back into expansion, it’s a good sign you’re ready to grow again. Critically evaluate every expense in your business plan and remove all obstacles to business growth. For example, are there ways to use your current space more efficiently rather than move to a larger location? Can you cut any perks that are rarely used by staff? Could a different vendor offer you a better price on office supplies? The list goes on and on.

Once you’ve determined what’s necessary and what’s a luxury, don’t be tempted by those nice-to-haves. They quickly add up and lead to a cash-flow crisis for a small business, leaving you little room to expand.

Business growth is completely possible in the post-COVID marketplace. As long as you have a realistic picture of the business landscape and have gathered enough information to understand the direction of this next chapter, you should be able to start looking toward expansion.