Expanding operations: 3 things you can learn from famous global leaders

Running a business takes drive, determination and bold leadership skills. Half measures don’t cut it when it comes to generating profits, building customer loyalty or fostering in-house talent. There will always be ups and down and slides of morale, but at the end of the day it’s up to the company’s leadership to steer the correct course. And as a business looks to expand, these qualities become even more important. Expanding operations is a risk – there’s no doubt about that. But it can be a calculated one, and the payoff for a successful expansion is huge. In the past, economies of scale have turned well-run businesses into powerhouses of commerce.

But how do you know when it’s time to expand? Is there even an ideal time? For some help, and a little inspiration, you can look to important people of the past. Giants like Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela took enormous risks – and reaped enormous benefits, for themselves, their countries and their peoples. Even today, political leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi are making profound strides on the global stage. In their accomplishments, you can look for inspiration and guidance.

Here are a few examples of lessons you can learn from such famous leaders:

Leadership means being able explain your plans succinctly and cleverly. Leadership means being able explain your plans succinctly and cleverly.

1. Winston Churchill
Churchill is known for many political and military feats. His leadership beat back the German bombardment of Britain and helped to join the Soviets and Americans together in the final years of WWII. And Churchill was particularly well-known for his skills as an orator. His speeches were famous and his witticisms are still repeated to this day. Communication was always a key factor to his ability to lead, whether in parliament or on the battlefield.

As you plan to expand your business, you’re going to need to convince a lot of people that it’s the right decision. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommended that those looking to expand with investor money should lay out their business strategies in a thorough plan. Professional expansion services can help you develop such a strategy. But being thorough isn’t all you need to be, because investors often don’t have the time to sift through the minutiae of your documents. You also have to be personable and convincing. You need to have the skills to eloquently – and even wittily – express your strategy.

2. Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela showed the world the difference one person can make. He dismantled apartheid, united a people, promoted democracy and became a symbol of charity. And he accomplished all of this under the harshest circumstances. He understood that people couldn’t be segregated from others and that culture could be a powerful driver of change. And of course he never gave up, even after 27 years of incarceration.

“If your foundations aren’t strong, it will be difficult to expand.”

Learn from Mandela’s example by creating a culture of acceptance, inclusion and persistence within your company. If your foundations aren’t strong, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to expand successfully. Entrepreneur magazine reported that company culture is something that needs constant attention. One event or policy might be a start, but if it’s not maintained and refined, your efforts at creating a culture will fade away to nothing. Perhaps you company culture will even spread and help your local community. When you move to another location, the people there should benefit from your arrival – a positive culture can make that happen.

3. Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi spent two decades under house arrest for going against the corrupt military rulers of Burma, now Myanmar. Her peaceful protests worked to promote democracy, fight for free and open elections and let the voice of a people be heard. Most impressive is the fact that she didn’t need to do any of it – Aung San Suu Kyi lived in England in the 1960’s and worked in New York City at the United Nations for several years. But her heart was in Myanmar and so followed her political intentions, no matter the consequences.

Running a business is hard and no one has to do it. There are other ways of making money. So when you decide to do it, you need to go all in, even if it means going far outside your comfort zone. Expansion is no small task, so you must be prepared for the work that comes with it. Take inspiration from leaders like Suu Kyi who stopped at nothing to achieve their goals, even after decades of opposition.