An old proverb says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the second-best time is now. The same thing goes for planning to grow your business and expand on your facility and services.
While you might take a year to decide exactly when to break ground on a building expansion or to construct a new facility altogether, the real decision to grow your business was best made the day you started it.
When I originally purchased the current building for my company, Silver Threads Inc., I already knew where the expansion would go, even though it was more than a decade away.
Identify the opportunity
It’s important to start by choosing a business or industry where you’ve identified a unique opportunity for growth. While it’s vital that you conduct your due diligence, don’t pay too much attention to others who might be closing shops or outsourcing business overseas. It’s possible that a trend like that may actually signal a bigger opportunity for your own business.
In the case of expanding Silver Threads, I knew from conversations with clients that they would prefer the crafting of their custom drapery, shades and bedding be kept in the U.S., but most of the industry was sending manufacturing work to China.
While the cost might initially appear to be marginally lower, I saw it as an opportunity to create more jobs in the U.S. while efficiently decreasing the time and money my clients were losing because of extended shipping requirements. Being U.S.-based became an even bigger benefit when things went wrong with an order, as Silver Threads was better positioned to correct the issue that would have taken weeks or months to correct and reship from overseas.
Research the talent pool
If you’re going to grow, you need to know that a talent pool is available to support your growth and increase your production capacity. There were a lot of talented seamstresses who were waiting for an opportunity to work at Silver Threads because the trend had been to lower costs by lowering salaries until they could no longer support American wages and then use lower-priced overseas labor.
The efficiencies in manufacturing in America allow us to pay our team fairly, give them bonuses when the company does well and keep everyone excited about our growth.
The most important mistake to avoid is basing your decision to expand on business coming in from a single client. If you’re planning your business growth on revenue from one source, you could also be planning the demise of your business based on the loss of one client.
It’s better to diversify your products and services to capture additional business from existing clients or brand new sources than to tie your expansion plans to a single client.
If I could go back in time and tell myself one thing to do differently in planning for the growth of my own company, it would be to make sure that I was thinking big enough. We just completed a 12,000-square-foot expansion, and we’re already out of room. But, that’s OK. I already have the plans for our next expansion all mapped out … I did it 20 years ago. ●
Carrie Perini is the owner of Silver Threads Inc., a commercial drapery workshop based in Plain City. Perini started the business out of her home more than 30 years ago, and has turned it into a thriving enterprise. For more information, visit www.SilverThreadsInc.com