Every startup owner knows that, sooner or later, they will either grow or go away. Any small business is dreaming about making it to the big leagues, though, and becoming the kind of business they had in mind from the beginning. Yet, when you made a success out of your own little company, it can seem like a rather scary and intimidating task to start expanding.

Here is a handful of ways you can start to grow your startup little by little so that it doesn’t suddenly creep up on you when you least expect it. It won’t necessarily guarantee you that success you’ve been dreaming about, but it will make everything a whole lot more manageable.

Make sure you own your market

When you think about growing your business, you probably imagine getting a lot of new customers onboard. While this is great and surely a way of ensuring that your business is expanding, you’d want to be confident that you’ve penetrated your existing market thoroughly first. Use the customers you already have to increase your sales, for example, and let your most loyal fans help you to reach a new stage of success.

Besides, it is a lot more cost-effective to ask for help from your existing customers as you won’t have to reach out to an entirely new market. Your business will grow, you’ll keep your existing fans loyal, and get to know a few more – all at the same time.

Actively seek referrals too, by the way; just because your customers are happy with your products, doesn’t mean that they will go out and spread the word all on their own.

Extend your market reach

When you’re certain that you’ve gotten the most out of the market you’ve been operating in, it’s time to get out there and tap into somewhere new. This is, of course, the most famous way of growing a business but it doesn’t mean that it will be easy.

You might have to open a few stores in new locations, for example, which will also cost both time and money. Maybe you even notice that the new market is looking for something slightly different which means that you should look into doing a rebrand. What is corporate branding? Read up on it, analyze the new market, and make sure your business is up to the challenge.

Take another look at your competitors

Extending your market reach and perhaps even doing a rebranding means that you’ll have a whole new set of competitors who want to outplay you. Uncover their advertising strategy, read up on what their customers like and dislike about the business, and give your growing company that competitive edge that they’re missing.

Without this taken care of, it will be impossible for you to grow at the pace you had in mind and it will certainly not be easy to survive in a new market. Identify new opportunities wherever you go and continue to keep those existing customers loyal – it will be worth it.