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4 Signs You Are Ready to Expand Your Business


Ben Goldstein


As restaurant owners we are a special blend of oxymorons. We’re so smart we’re stupid. We’re so full of energy we’re exhausted. We’ve got enough gumption to make the impossible happen, and yet sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other is a challenge.

Yes, we’re some of the most elite fools you’ll ever meet and although our roles could often be defined as glorified babysitters we’re all in this because we’ve got an insane passion for our businesses. As Steve Jobs noted, if you don’t have crazy passion for what you do, you won’t have the perseverance to see it through when times get tough.

If you’re like me, part of your insanity includes a grander vision of growing your business. Why? It’s probably not because you have capital oozing out of your ears just begging you to open another location or start another concept — though if you do, kudos to you! Chances are you’re already stretched thin on time and resources, and yet this inner drive inside of you keeps pushing you to expand.

Identifying The Right Time To Expand Your Business

Well, that’s both good news and bad. It’s good news because it shows you believe in your brand and ability and know you’ve got something to share with the world that only you can express. It’s bad news because those around you, often the very close and important people in your life, may be begging you to take it easy for once and try to enjoy life outside of your business.

For every establishment and family it will play out differently, but if you’ve been considering expanding you’ll know you’re truly ready for it if you’ve got all, or at least most, of the following four signs:

1) The entrepreneurial spirit is taking over.

That’s the crazy passion I mentioned above, and it is a unique asset to a very limited group of people. It’s that part of you that loves taking risks, trying new things, and doggedly pursuing the unknown. It’s the quality that separates the nine-to-fivers from the 24-hourers (aka business owners) and the very base of what drives us to leap into opportunities despite not knowing all of the variables and outcomes. If you — or at least someone in your partnership — do not have this spirit, trying to expand and grow your business may be overwhelming and unrewarding.

2) Business is booming with high demand.

Don’t kid yourself here, you’ve got to objectively look at your business and decide if replicating or expanding will actually be successful. Is your current business successful because you’re hitting all of the marks, or is it because you’re in a great location? If you’re barely making it with one or two stores, adding additional locations will definitely add to your headaches and not likely your bank account.

3) Capital or investors are ready to go.

The key part of that sentence is the ready part. Lots of people say they’re willing to invest. Lots of banks talk about giving loans. But until you have actual contracts or agreements in place it’s worth nothing. Before you get even as far as site selection, you better have a really clear understanding of what kind of start-up capital you have to work with — and don’t forget to budget some cushion for unexpected expenses, training, and ramp-up for the opening months.

4) You run your business with systems.

Here’s another reality check. You might say you have systems, but “knowing the recipe in my head” is not a system. Having the staff refer complaints to you, ask you to make specialty beverages, having you count the drawer, do deposits, check inventory, and do ordering are not systems. They are you, the owner, working in the business and not on it. If your shop can’t run without talking to you for two weeks then you aren’t ready to open another one.

It can be hard to negotiate with that driving need to expand your vision and grow your business, but don’t sell yourself on a dream, think about the reality. Ask yourself if your family can afford it — financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally — and be okay with delaying plans for a year or two if the honest answer is no. It might be the right choice, but the wrong time. You have to get both right to expand your business in a successful way. After all, it’s better to have one amazing store than two mediocre ones.

So get your current operation as close to perfect as possible, and then leap into growth confident with your systems, yourself, and your business.