In 1921, William and Salie Utz began selling potato chips, hand-cooked in their home kitchen, packaged in brown paper bags. Today, Utz Potato Chips is the leading conglomerate in the snack food industry.
In today’s market, about 90% of American businesses are family-owned and controlled. Some companies, like Utz, have become full-blown enterprises that have cornered their prospective markets. While the path for every business is different and there is no clear-cut path to expansion, there are certain steps and considerations that have proven universal when looking to grow your family business.
The path to expansion for any business requires a well-thought-out and innovative plan for what the stages of expansion should be.
While your plan needs to leave room to be flexible and nimble to account for things like changes in the market, consumer climate, and national culture, there needs to be a relatively concrete path for how you intend to move the business forward.
Take Stock Of the Current State of Your Business
Before you can healthily expand, you need to take full stock of the current state of your family business including revenue streams, work environment and culture, and agreement among partners in the business that expansion is the best way forward.
According to Forbes, deciding to move a family business forward can be more difficult than some other small businesses because of the emotional attachment that is often involved.
Make sure that all vested members are on board with the plan to expand.
Assess Your Talent Needs
It is imperative that you make an assessment of your current workforce and decide where you need to make the first investments in attracting strong talent.
Whether it be for a strong sales manager, an operations manager, or a business development lead, you will need to decide what steps you will take to create a position that will be attractive for ideal candidates.
According to a survey by Glassdoor, three in five employees stated that benefits and perks were the most important aspect of a potential job offer to them, even over higher compensation.
The top 5 most valued benefits to the employees surveyed were:
- Health insurance
- Vacation and paid time off
- Pension plans
- 401K/retirement plans
- Wellness programs
While competitive compensation packages are a good way to attract talent, today’s workforce has started to lean more towards the benefits of working for a company, and how much the company will allow them to balance work, home, and health.
Reach out to a company like Life Inc. Retirement Services to discuss options for creating a comprehensive and attractive benefits package to offer your employees.
Stay Strong To Your Values
Your family business likely has very core values that it was founded on, and expanding should not lead you to deter or sway from those values.
Transparency and exceptional customer service are often key values of a family business, and those values should remain intact through the growth of the company. Be open with your employees and your customer about what your core values are, and reiterate that they will remain despite the expansion of the business.
Customer loyalty is as important to an enterprise as it is to a small family business.
Before expanding your company, you need to ensure that the procedures and policies that you have in place can support rapid business growth.
Streamlining and automating as many of your processes as possible is a great first step to making your family business scalable.
Having too many manual processes that require manpower will inevitably begin to bog down your production and ability to grow once your amount of incoming business increases, which can result in massive operations failures and negative work culture.
Forbes recommends five concrete steps to scaling your business that will help ensure its longevity.
Be Patient, Be Flexible
No matter how well-devised your plan for expansion is, there will undoubtedly be hurdles and challenges involved that are unexpected and can feel overwhelming.
Be patient in the process of expansion, and be flexible in your willingness to deviate from your plan to overcome these challenges. Make sure that you have the right people in the right positions to handle these hurdles as they come.
Most importantly, do not forget the essence of your family business and why it was started in the first place. There is room for integrity and honesty in every part of the market.