This article was updated on September 18, 2018.
An opportunity for a business expansion represents one of the biggest milestones of an entrepreneur's career. Perhaps you're facing more demand than you can handle or have discovered a new customer segment. While open doors can connect you with strong growth opportunities, how do you know whether you're ready to take the next step? The following are five warning signs that now is not the right time for you to expand:
1. The Quality of Your Product or Service Could Deteriorate
Customers come to you because you are a trusted, reputable vendor. You need to stay close to your track record and ensure the best possible experiences for your customers. It may be tempting to scale fast, but it's important to take a step back and evaluate whether you can live up to your current reputation if you expand in the near future. If the quality of your product or service might deteriorate, it's probably best to wait.
2. Your Core Operations Can't Handle the Risk
New customers and markets may be ready and waiting, but what is the risk associated with venturing into uncharted territory? When a business expansion poses a risk to your core operations, you need to evaluate whether you should move forward. Consider the trade-offs you might need to make and how they could affect your core operations. If you end up seeing more potential risks than gains, expansion probably isn't the right move.
3. You Don't Have the Talent Infrastructure
No matter how flexible and versatile your teams may be, you don't want to burn them out. However, you do need the right talent on board to expand, which could mean hiring additional staff. Otherwise, you risk damaging your existing team dynamics. When evaluating a business expansion opportunity, be mindful of burnout and lead your teams with caution.
4. The Market Is Volatile
When pursuing a new market opportunity, keep the long haul in mind. Is the trend you're observing likely to last? Take time to explore this question to determine whether the potential path is viable. Don't fall into a trap of pursuing short-term gains — they won't last.
5. You Don't Love the Path Forward
If something is telling you to avoid the direction you're considering, you should trust your gut. A business expansion opportunity should align with your mission, vision and goals. If something feels off, ask yourself why. You work countless hours to keep your business running, so if you don't think you'll feel personally fulfilled by an expansion opportunity, what's the point of taking it?
As part of your deliberations, be sure to study the paths of entrepreneurs who have been where you are now. At what point did these individuals determine it was the right time to expand? Which steps did they take to explore new directions? Business expansion opportunities can open doors for mistakes, so try to outsmart the learning curve by understanding the challenges you'll face. This perspective will help you make an educated and informed decision.