Once your company is up and running and you have created some brand awareness, the thought of opening another office or location can be a great temptation. But expand too quickly and you risk killing what you have created. Choose not to expand and you may miss the opportunity to become the next Chipotle or Pinkberry.
Before you consider taking on this new challenge with your business, make sure you have the following items covered:
1. Documented Systems and Processes
Every business needs to be created in a way that doesn't require the owner or founder to be there every day. Your systems and processes must be documented so that a qualified person can deliver your product or service predictably without your direct input.
Systems are important to growing your business and a requirement if you want to make sure your company stays around for the long run. Anything can happen to you or one of your key employees and the fallout of not having your systems documented and repeatable can be devastating. On the positive side, running your business this way allows you to take a much-deserved vacation.
Before you consider an expansion, ask yourself how long your existing business could run today if you didn't show up to the office.
2. Effective Communications
If you can't get your message to resonate successfully within the walls of your primary office, your likelihood of success with a secondary office or location are unlikely.
Communications and collaboration were the main reasons Marissa Mayer brought Yahoo employees back into the office. In the memo to Yahoo's workforce, HR boss Jackie Reses explained, "to become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices."
Even well-established companies struggle to get this right. Consider the communication challenges you have now--and then consider how they might multiply with multiple locations.
Once a message is communicated, does everyone understand it correctly across the organization?
3. The Culture Question
Expanding companies often make the mistake of attempting to replicate the home office culture. First you need to take the time to understand if your business's culture will replicate and if culture is an important component of your success. If so, how do you make it work somewhere else? While planning a quarterly event for all office locations may make sense, what makes up that event for an office in California may be very different from what a location in the South requires.
For companies like Starbucks, it's crucial that all employees feel like they are working equally as part of the larger organization. For your company, however, different cultures in different areas may not have a negative impact on your success.
Is it important to the success of your business for your culture to transfer across?
The decision to open a second location can be as exciting and challenging as initially starting your company. Before you take this step make sure you have covered these fundamental bases.