5 Real-Life Ways Startups Can Prepare Today for Future Nationwide Expansion

Every entrepreneur hopes that his or her startup will eventually grow big enough to become a household name. But how do you actually make it happen?

Success is a tricky and unpredictable thing, but there are certain broad principles that, when followed, significantly improve a business’ chances of succeeding and scaling in the right way. The best thing about these principles is that you don’t have to wait to start seeing results from them—you can start today.

A great example of a startup that grew into a successful national chain is Extra Space Storage, which grew from a tiny startup in Salt Lake City, Utah into one of the country’s most popular storage unit chains. I’m familiar with this company’s story and will use it as an example of how to build a strong foundation for explosive future growth.

So, without further ado, here are 5 things young companies can do right now to lay the groundwork for future expansion across the country.

1) Build a Strong, Tight-Knit Staff

The single most important thing a young business can do to foster future growth is to hire the right people. A talented, driven team can turn almost any business into a nationwide success. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true—it’s nearly impossible for a business to survive, let alone expand if the founders and staff are unmotivated or incompetent.

Your hiring choices are everything.

This isn’t only true for employees—contracting with the right freelancers, agencies and consultants are vital as well. Hiring an ineffective marketing agency, for instance, could set you back thousands of dollars and waste precious time.

2) Identify Potential Target Markets

Once you have the right people in place and are beginning to see promising growth, the next step is to begin thinking seriously about expansion. By the time Extra Space Storage had firmly established itself in Salt Lake City, the founders already had a detailed plan for where they wanted to open locations next.

Not all cities will offer the same opportunities for your business. Extra Space Storage compiled loads of demographic information to deduce that conditions were right to expand into Lubbock, Texas and Norfolk, Virginia, among several other cities.

By carefully researching their expansion target markets, this company was able to grow very rapidly. Today it has over 1600 locations in 35 states, not to mention Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

3) Build an Instantly-Recognizable Brand

It’s tough to succeed in a new market if people don’t know who you are or what you do. Generally speaking, the stronger your brand, and the higher your profile, the easier it will be for you to expand nationwide.

A great example is In-N-Out Burger, which spent years building its brand and reputation in California before expanding outside the state. By the time In-N-Out locations began finally appearing in places like Nevada and Utah, people in those places had been wanting them for years.

Expanding too soon can actually hurt your business. First, take the time to build up your reputation and brand through excellent service and advertising. Then, once people know your business and want it in their hometowns, mobilize your expansion plans.

4) Invest In Your Systems to Prepare Them for Growth

In 2017, a small family-owned business called 84 Lumber ran an ad in the Super Bowl. The ad was a huge success, driving so much traffic to their site that it crashed and remained down for many critical hours.

To prevent accidents like that from happening, you have to invest in your company’s infrastructure. Could your website handle a huge surge in traffic? Is your back-office ready to grow at the same rate as your customer-base? If the answer is no, start making changes to ensure that your business systems are scalable.

That way you’ll be ready when your Super Bowl moment comes.

5) Leave Yourself Room to Grow

Your business systems aren’t the only things that need to be ready for fast expansion. It’s easy to overlook business nuts and bolts that have the potential to cause serious problems in the future if they aren’t adjusted to anticipate future growth.

Go through your business and make sure that you’ve left yourself room to grow.

A good example is legal agreements. If your current legal documents are drafted with too narrow a scope, they can actually prevent you from capitalizing on new revenue opportunities in the future.

Does your current office space have enough room for the employees you’ll need to hire to keep up with growth? Are your accountants, lawyers and HR specialists equipped to deal with an influx of revenue and employees?

It pays to be prepared. By utilizing these five steps, you can make sure your business is ready for nationwide expansion when the time comes.

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