Dear entrepreneur, congratulations! You’ve successfully started your own business, and it’s remained up and running. We hope you’ve given yourself a high-five.
But we know you. With your tenacity and progress-oriented mindset, keeping things comfortably as they are just isn’t going to cut it for you. And some of the best advice for expanding your business can come from your fellow—and successful—entrepreneurs.
We talked with one of our customers Warren Matzelle, co-owner of YYC and YEG Cycle, about what made their expansion from Calgary to Edmonton such a smooth transition, and what he and his partners Grady Topak and Andrew Obrecht learned along the way.
Consider this a coffee date with a business-minded friend who wants to share his knowledge with you. Not a bad deal, if you ask us.
1. Reflect on your current business
Our business was doing so well in Calgary that we felt we had a fighting chance of being successful with the expansion.
2. Document everything you do
As the owner of a business, you probably do a lot of things without even thinking about them simply because it’s your business and they need to get done. But when you expand, someone needs to be in place to do those things.
For example, maybe Grady goes shopping every week for our studio and buys all the toilet paper. But if you’re expanding into multiple studios and Grady is no longer there to shop, then who’s buying all the toilet paper? There are going to be a handful of items that you don’t capture and those are the little things that could hurt the quality of your business.
3. Market research is key
Calgary already had multiple spin studios (albeit not all owned and operated by us) but there are other options in the market. So we tried to identify a market that didn’t have this form of exercise or the boutique studio concept. We looked at lots of options and much to our surprise, the best locale seemed to be Edmonton.
4. More research is even better
Once we identified Edmonton as our expansion market we dove deeper and researched questions like:
- Would this city make sense for our business?
- Would Edmonton be receptive?
- What is the customer base like in Edmonton?
- What is the market like compared to Calgary?
Once you’ve answered these types of questions you’ll have a better feel for whether your expansion plans make sense.
5. Seek out great business partners
We were so lucky to meet our managing partner up in Edmonton who’s been a huge help with opening and operating the business.
6. Be risk-averse
We want to make sure that we take care of everything that we’ve built up in Calgary and Edmonton. We don’t want to lose the quality that we’ve built this business on. This was a major consideration on our radar before we moved on to a different city or considered a fourth studio.
Listening to our staff and customers is key so that we can nip weaknesses in the bud. It gives us a chance to put controls in place so that the business can continue to grow at the rate we want.
8. Be as certain as you can be of your success
There’s always a moment when you are second guessing yourself, but we’re never going to move forward on a project or investment idea until we’re as sure as we can be that it will work.
9. Don’t outgrow yourself
I think the biggest mistake people make in the retail/service sector is that they outgrow themselves. Not in a financial capacity, but in management capacity. You'll see businesses that have grown maybe to ten stores, but have decreased the quality of the product they’re offering to clients by maybe 50 or 70 per cent.
10. Make sure you have a great support team
Having a great banking partner has been so pivotal in everything we’ve done. Not only have they helped us bring new clients in the door, they’ve actually helped us garner better business relationships too.
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