January is the perfect time to reflect on where you’re at as a business. And if you’re a well-established company that has a sound customer base and a good product or service, it may be that 2018 is the year to grow your business in a new direction. But what’s the best way to do so? Well, a lot depends on the type of business you own, your available resources, and how much money and time you’re willing to invest. And so if taking your business to the next level is a priority for this year, then we’ve got some helpful ideas to get you started.

1.       Offer your business as a franchise

McDonald’s is perhaps the world’s most successful franchise network but there are plenty of examples of smaller businesses successfully using franchising as the vehicle for business growth. One of the main attractions of the franchise model is that franchisees buy into the business and so have a vested interest in making it a success. The franchisee in turn has the support, expertise and knowledge of the franchiser at their disposal who also has a vested interest in making the relationship a success. It’s potentially a win-win situation and over the last 50 years has increased in popularity as a vehicle for business growth. Before going down this road though make sure you do plenty of research and get specialised legal help and advice so that you get the franchise relationship right for you.

2.       Diversify

Diversifying your product or service line is another way to achieve growth. And so why not consider selling complementary products or services, or perhaps importing or exporting yours or others’ products. It may be that you could become an industry expert and a paid speaker or columnist, or perhaps you could expand into teaching adult education or other types of classes.

Diversifying is often an excellent way to increase sales and profit margins because it enables you to have multiple streams of income, which can be particularly useful to cover you during seasonal voids or quiet periods.

3.       Merge with or acquire another business

Mergers with or acquisitions of similar or complementary businesses could be another strategy to achieve business growth. And on the face of it a merger or acquisition with the resulting new combination of products, people and pipelines should take your business to new heights. It’s also true though that the new combined business may well have to deal with operating in multiple markets, as well as a larger and more diverse customer base, a more complex product and services portfolio, and a high level of people and operational complexity. And so it’s important that you go into any such venture with your eyes wide open. Do all the research and due diligence so that you can be confident the merger or acquisition is appropriate and sustainable.

4.       Target other markets

If your current market is serving you well then how about looking at expanding into other markets to achieve business growth. Use your imagination. Why not look at electronic and foreign rights, entrepreneurship programmes, speaking events and software offerings as well as different demographics or locations.

And so if 2018 is the year you take your business to new heights, then congratulations on making a courageous decision. Hopefully we’ve given you some food for thought about the whole host of possibilities depending on your business and the resources you have available.