Growing your business
Table of contents
Growing a business can mean different things to different people. This guide is for you if:
- You feel that you are ready to move past the start-up phase
- Your business is established and you are looking for ways to grow
- Your business is growing and you are looking for information and resources to help you
If you are starting a business in Ontario, read our guide.
Starting a business
You may already know how you want to grow your business. Writing down your growth plan can help you determine how to make it happen. Consider looking at your current business performance and outlining a plan before you start.
Assess your business
You may want to do a business assessment to determine your current situation and to prepare you for any changes that may result from your plans to expand.
Update your business plan
When you started your business, you may have created a business plan to outline your goals and your strategy for getting your idea off the ground. Once your business is established and growing, you should revisit that plan. Your business plan can help you identify and address potential risk factors before they develop and guide your growth activities.
Planning for business growth
Research and marketing
Understanding who your customers are, what they need or want, and how to reach them is an essential part of growing a successful business. One way to get more information about your customers is through market research and statistics.
Market research and statistics
Secondary market research service
Canada Business Ontario’s free secondary market research service can help you expand your small business by providing information about:
- Business associations, manufacturers, suppliers and competitors
- Consumer, business and industry trends
- Canadian consumer spending statistics and demographic data for market research
- Sample business plans
- International trade data
Secondary market research service request
Marketing and advertising
Marketing can help you determine the value of your product or service and communicate that information to customers. Depending on your market and its size, you can consider using flyers, business cards, brochures, newspapers, radio, TV, social media or a website. Keep in mind, a satisfied customer or a positive referral is often the best form of advertising.
When preparing your marketing and/or advertising material, there are regulations to follow. When you promote a product or service, your customers need to have enough information to make informed choices. You can get more information on advertising regulations from the Competition Bureau.
Contact the Competition Bureau:
Misleading advertising and labelling
Government departments and agencies provide financing such as grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees. Find out what type of government financing may be available for your business. Use the program search tool or browse by type of financing.
Government grants and financing
When you want to grow your business, it is important to analyze the business’s financial performance. Financial ratios are one of the many tools you can use to do your financial analysis. Financial ratios are used to measure the relationship between two or more components of financial statements (like a debt-to-asset ratio) and the results are compared to industry standards for businesses of similar size and activity. For more information on financial analysis and financial ratios, refer to the following online resources.
Financial analysis using ratios
Types of growth
There are many ways to grow a business. Whether you are expanding into new markets, developing a new product line or moving into new distribution channels, each strategy will present different challenges. To determine which option is best suited to your business needs, read the following guide.
Assess your options for growth
Listed below are some of the most common ways that a small business may grow.
E-Business and the internet
Selling online, also known as e-business, can increase your customer base because your customers may be anywhere in the world. Keep in mind that selling to other countries–even over the internet–means that you are exporting and you will need to follow additional regulations.
Using technology in your daily operations
Exporting is one way to grow your business. It requires careful market research and planning to assess the risks and benefits of taking your product or service to new markets. Read our guides to learn about exporting and how to make sure your business is ready to enter international markets.
Hiring employees can be an effective way to manage the growth of your business. Before you decide to hire employees, make sure that it is the right decision for your business.
Managing a growing business
Managing a growing business can present new challenges to a business owner. When a business is growing, there may be changes in processes and staffing requirements, as well as decisions about investments and strategies for future expansions.
The following resources can help you find support, learn about managing your business and prepare you for growth challenges.
Managing your business
The success of any business starts by setting goals and managing the ups and downs of daily operations. The following guide will help you determine how you can structure your business, manage production processes and limit risks.
Business support organizations
The use of business support services can be essential to the success of a small business. Professionals can provide knowledge and expertise to ensure your business is operating efficiently. You can find links to a variety of support organizations, including chambers of commerce, mentoring and training organizations and business consultants through the Canada Business website.
Business support organizations
Protect your intellectual property
When your business is growing, you may decide to create a specific logo, brand or unique product. In order to protect your intellectual property, you can patent, trademark, copyright or license your product or brand.
What is intellectual property?
You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.
Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.
Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:
You can also contact the Law Society of Upper Canada's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.
Law Society Referral Service
You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us at 1-888-576-4444.