Growing your small business is no easy task. It’s not something that happens on its own either. You might aim for organic growth. But the truth is, you can’t expect your business to grow substantially unless you do the work to make it happen. Only the owners and managers of the business can decide when the time to push on to the next level arrives. Preparation is key because the risks associated with failing can be huge.

Many businesses start to decline rapidly when they undertake an unsuccessful expansion. This can mean that not only is the expansion a failure but the business as a whole can be put at risk. So, you need to put some checks and safeguards in place to ensure this doesn’t become a problem for your business.

Every stage of the expansion plan should be approached with care and attention. Read on to find out more about what you should do to grow and expand your new new business.

1. Draw up an expansion plan

First of all, you will need to ensure you have a plan in place for your expansion. This plan should make it clear how you are going to approach the overall expansion and what steps will need to be taken. Going into this kind of project without a plan in place would be suicidal. Just as a new business needs a business plan, your growing business will need a reliable expansion plan.

This plan should be drawn up before the expansion has started. It should highlight the advantages and potential drawbacks of your plans, and what the precise details of those plans are. It should also take a financial look at your plans and outline how these will be paid for. Forecasting future revenue should also allow you to work out how quickly the expansion will pay for itself.

2. Highlight every risk you’ll face

There will be many risks you face when you are trying to grow and expand your business. That’s just the way it is. You can only begin to mitigate these risks properly when you know what they all are. So, spend some time highlighting what all the risks you will face are. That way, you can be prepared for them, and no one will be taken by surprise.

When you and your team of highlighted all the potential risks the business will face, move on to the next step. This next step will include thinking about which concrete steps can be taken to ensure these risks are handled. Big problems can be avoided if you’re willing to take direct action in mitigating some of the most serious risks you’ll face.

3. Reassure the staff and keep them informed

Your staff might be slightly worried about the possibility of the business changing and growing. They might think that new staff will come in, and this could make them less invested in the overall expansion. This can cause your business big problems in and of itself. When your employees are not invested in your plans, their motivation can drop. But if you want your plans to succeed, everyone will need to be onboard.

You should also make sure that you do everything possible to keep them informed throughout the process. When they are kept in the loop with regards to everything that’s happening, they will feel like they are a part of the business’s growth. This is good for them, good for you and good for the business as a whole, so there’s no reason not to do it.

4. Protect and improve your online presence

Your business’s growth shouldn’t mean that you take an eye off its online presence. Growth can happen in the digital world as well, and this is something many business owners forget about. You could aim to improve the business’s website at the same time as you carry out other forms of expansion. For many people, your website will be their first point of contact with your business.

So, protect and improve your business’s overall online presence. You can start to make changes to how you use social media too. When you become a bigger business, sometimes, how you use platforms like Twitter have to change. You have to become a bit more professional. Website maintenance by SixtyMarketing can help you to keep things ticking over while you’re focusing on other things too.

6. Get advice from those who’ve been there before

If you’ve never been in the position of growing and expanding a business before, it can all be a bit daunting. But don’t let it overwhelm you because this won’t help your situation at all. Instead, you should do what you can to learn from other people who have already been in this situation before now. If you have people who have been there and done it all before working for you, it’ll be a big help.

Alternatively, you could speak to people who have been there and now run bigger companies. Business owners are usually every happy to be open and speak about their past experiences. By learning from the successes and mistakes of others, you can make your expansion a little smoother.

5. Have an exit strategy

It’s not always possible to make a complete success of your business’s expansion. This is something that you should always keep in mind. If you start to realise that things aren’t working out, you might need to consider withdrawing. Backing away from your expansion plans is never easy, but sometimes it’s the best thing to do. Sometimes, it can be absolutely necessary.

By having an exit strategy in place, you will be able to deal with these kinds of instances. And that could be the difference between your business surviving in its previous form or sinking completely. So, this is something that really can’t be ignored. Start preparing a plan for an exit, even if you hope you’ll never need it. Doing this doesn’t mean that you’re conceding defeat. It’s simply the sensible thing to do.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (his free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.