Business Expansion: The Marathon and the Tree – 2 of 2
January 2020 Article
By Aimee Sukol, JD/MA/MS Ed.
Starting and running a business is a massive endeavor that frequently fails within the first year. Like running a never-ending marathon, businesses must continue to harness their strengths and understand their weaknesses to keep going, and with a combination of skill, vision, luck, and wisdom, businesses grow stronger the longer and harder they run. In another light, those who harvest fruit must use lessons and strategic planning to not only maintain success but grow something new.
In part to focus and vision over 30 years in the field, Meta Fab has been able to expand its customers, and now into an additional 21,000 square foot facility on our property. This expansion is with enormous gratitude to our customers, workers, friends and community resources who gave us their encouragement and support along the way.
To fellow businesses (precision sheet metal fabrication or otherwise), Meta Fab hopes to be a resource by sharing insights regarding our expansion.
Motivation: Why and when do we do it?
As noted above, running a business is like a marathon. USA Today cited, “It will change you” among nine reasons to run a marathon. Without question, starting a business is life-changing as it tests endurance and self-confidence. After a stretch of successful miles, runners experience what’s called a “runner’s high” described as euphoria coupled with reduced anxiety and resistance to pain. The decision to expand our business came after overcoming periods of pain and anxiety to achieve sustained success.
Expansion is also planting a seed. You can’t enjoy its fruit without waiting patiently for the tree to grow. Meta Fab nurtured its investment, paying attention to details over time – details like best practices, customer service, and employee training. Over time, those details helped Meta Fab harvest a healthier tree that bore fruit we were proud to share. Having learned from our success with the first tree, we felt ready to plant another.
Expectations: What purposes do we fulfill in the short term and long term?
Expanding into a new space provides short and long term advantages. As the runner seeks to test a new strategy or gear and the harvester seeks more fruit, expansion in business offers new opportunities to benefit customers. Through added space, our new facility allows Meta Fab to improve strategies and introduce new products in greater volume.
In the long term, expansion provides a greater footprint within precision sheet metal fabrication. Not only does increased space provide an improved work environment and enables our employees to explore new manufacturing methods that build their skills and expertise, increased capacity allows Meta Fab to reinvest in R&D furthering growth and innovation As lessons and endurance from the marathon build momentum for more running, the fruits from the first harvest are invested into a new seed.
Love your business and be patient.
The obvious tip for a marathon runner is “love to run”. This means no shortcuts. The rules of the race are laid out and the underlying objective is to run for as long as you can, which one can’t do without loving to run. So the business has to be your passion and you are committed to making it better and stronger. Similarly, you can inject fertilizer into your tree, but if you don’t exercise patience and pay attention to details, your tree will ultimately become weak and/or the fruit will be poisoned. When you expand, do it because you’ve tested your endurance, you’re prepared for (but semi-resistant to) pain, and “keep your eyes facing forward”. (https://blog.mapmyrun.com/6-running-form-pointers-from-expert-coaches/)
Listen, learn and don’t get angry.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Precision sheet metal fabricators to bakers and pubs know their craft, but are likely unfamiliar with the intricacies of government bureaucracy. Meta Fab sought others expertise and followed advice. In the short term, this meant seeking our local economic development team and their engineers for support and engaging experts in the field. You can save money and time by waiting until you are financially prepared to invest in resources and addressing unexpected costs. Understand that municipalities will want you to add or invest in features surrounding your space and that you can work with them on these issues. Be prepared, don’t get angry, and speak to local business advocacy organizations to assist you through these discussions.
The Big Picture
Meta Fab has run many a’mile and planted a fruit bearing tree through patience and investments in best practices. Building relationships in the community, attending/leading industry events, seeking feedback from employees and customers, and using efficient equipment and processes are investments that bore fruit. Making those investments over thirty years through good years and bad provided Meta Fab the stamina to achieve and maintain profitability.
The expansion experience itself will likely include complications and negotiations. To overcome challenges, businesses should be well prepared, seek assistance, and ask questions along the way. Strong project management skills and positive relationships with government permitting and planning staff also help expedite the process and promote a smoother experience.
Altogether, Meta Fab is excited to more forward with our new facility and we hope that by sharing our story we foster growth and success within the manufacturing supply chain.
Suggested Resources for Expansion:
- City Economic Development Department
- Manufacturing association (ex: OMEP, EMA) – referrals to support experts
- Local chamber of commerce – advocacy, support
- For more information or to learn about Meta Fab’s precision sheet metal services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for quotes for your next job.