You’ve been steadily building your business for the past five years. You have a solid customer base and productive employees. Your business is growing. As you look to the future, you realize that to continue growing revenue, you must expand your business.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share the seven critical pitfalls to avoid when expanding your small business, from U.K.-based freelance writer Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead.

1. Failing to understand your customer. The first step is to understand your customer. This means looking at customer data, understanding key touch points in the buyer’s journey and gaining insight into why and how the customer would benefit from the expansion. This will help you to define the most appropriate opportunities.

2. Not coming up with a credible action plan. It’s important to create an action plan that specifies how you will reach customers and achieve a competitive advantage within the new market. Pickard-Whitehead gives the example of an office furniture company that wanted to enter the San Francisco market where people are more ergonomically-conscious. They launched a Sit-Stand Loft Desk in conjunction with opening their office and showroom.

3. Not looking at industry news, and failing to act upon trends and changes. Don’t make a mistake of operating in the dark. Instead, monitor industry news and trends to get a pulse on the market.

4. Failing to listen to demand. Take steps to assess your sales channels, infrastructure and customer relationships before you launch into a new market to determine how you are going to leverage your core competencies.

5. Underestimating the importance of identifying resource and skills gaps early on. Take time to assess where you have resource and talent gaps early in your launch and quickly fill those roles. This will help you with the traction you need for the expansion.

6. Disregarding long-term employee counts. Small businesses often don’t take the time to look ahead and project their employee counts. This can affect budget and resources. Forecast what your employee base will look like six months from now.

7. Avoiding extensive market research. Failing to conduct extensive market research is another mistake small businesses make when attempting to expand. Research can take many forms: market studies, customer interviews, and quantitative research through surveys. Take the time to get market feedback before you invest in expansion.

If you’re ready to expand, be careful to avoid these mistakes and lay a solid foundation for future success.

Source: Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Peak District, the UK’s oldest national park. Since finishing her degree in media and journalism at John Moores University in Liverpool, she has built a career writing predominantly for local newspapers and websites.