Expansion delivers a wide range of topics for small business owners to explore when expanding their business into new markets and / or to new customers.

In this module we will be exploring topics that many entrepreneurs and start-up companies need to consider more of when they have launched their product and are expanding in the marketplace.
This module will cover six topics, including:

  • Sales Teams
  • Channel Partners and Distribution Networks
  • Strategic Partners
  • Manufacturing and Supply Chain
  • Governance
  • Investors
Lesson 1

Sales Teams

When you are launching your product or service, you, the business owner, will be the best person to promote it since it is you that knows all of the features and you can answer questions from potential customers.
However, as your company grows, you are going to need to connect others with your product or service, potential customers, to make sales, and gain market share. To do this you will most likely require a sales team. When building a sales team (or any team for that matter), it is important to hire the right staff and train them about your potential customers and your industry.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to understand:

  • The steps of the sales process
  • How to build a sales team, and
  • Types of sales team structures

Building Startup Sales Teams: Tips For Founders from
A list of considerations for start-up founders in building a sales team.

Strategies for managing sales teams from the MaRS Library
A panel discussion video providing guidance on finding the right salesperson for your startup, managing them, and protecting your company.

Kash – Knowledge, Attitude, Skills & Habits from Auburn Works 
An article outlining the KASH Box tool that helps employers measure employees knowledge, skills, attitudes, and habits.

6 Talent Assessment Tools, Ranked from Most to Least Effective from Business 2 Community
Highlights of six different methods for assessing employee talent.

The Complete Guide to Running 360 Reviews by Christian Vanek from SurveyGizmo
A guide on how to conduct 360-degree reviews to assess employee behaviours and skills.

DiSC Personality Profile Assessment
An assessment tool that can be used to identify team member’s behavioural tendencies.

Lesson 2

Channel Partnerships and Distribution Networks

Whether your business sells products or services when you are looking at choosing a distribution channel, you need to incorporate all of your market research and customer research and use this information to identify the most effective methods of distribution for a product or service in your industry.

The two most common methods of distribution are direct and indirect channels.

  • Direct channels allow you to sell your product or service to your customer without using other organizations.
  • Indirect channels allow you to sell your product or service through already established networks.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Identify multiple different traditional distribution channels
  • Distinguish between direct and indirect channels and
  • Define market pull versus market push

Identifying effective distribution channels for your startup from the MaRS Library
This outlines considerations when assessing developing a distribution channel.

Distribution Channel Assessment Worksheet from Score
A template to assist in illustrating the pros and cons of various distribution channels.

The Dragons’ Den Guide to Assessing Your Business Concept by The Producers of CBC’s Dragons’ Den with John Vyge

Lesson 3

Strategic Partners

Strategic relationships are an agreement between you and another organization. Normally there is a similarity between you and the other company, either complementary product or service or business goals. The relationship you create should benefit both companies although the actual benefits may differ.

In essence, a strategic relationship works in a similar way to the traditional indirect channel.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Distinguish what a strategic relationship is
  • Define five types of strategic partnerships and
  • Identify criteria for evaluating a strategic partner

Five Types of Strategic Partnership Agreements to Help Grow Your Business by Todd Spears from PandaDoc
Highlights of the various strategic partnerships a company can pursue.

Strategic Business Partnerships from MediaLabs
Tips on how to evaluate existing partners and assess new partners.

The Dragons’ Den Guide to Assessing Your Business Concept by The Producers of CBC’s Dragons’ Den with John Vyge

Lesson 4

Manufacturing and Supply Chain

If your business sells products, there are two main options for production and or manufacturing – internal and external. The goal of developing a manufacturing strategy is to ensure the business can produce a product in a way that allows it to be delivered to customers in a reasonable time and at the desired quality and price. To evaluate what strategy is best suited for a business, consider using a manufacturing strategy framework like the one defined by John Miltenberg.

Tying together all the decisions that are made throughout a manufacturing strategy framework is known as supply chain management and can include different components such as Distribution, Inventory control, Procurement, Scheduling & planning, Delivery & Transportation, and Contract management.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Define manufacturing outputs and levers
  • Discuss how to develop a manufacturing strategy and
  • Understand the basics of supply chain management

Lean Manufacturing – Working More Efficiently from Mindtools
An outline of the basics of the Lean Manufacturing process.

Manufacturing Strategy. How to Formulate and Implement a Winning Plan by John Miltenberg (1995)

Lesson 5


Corporate governance is a system that manages and monitors an organization and has appropriate rules, processes and relationships in place to ensure a business is run properly and ethically.

Corporate governance provides company guidance on how to achieve its goals in areas such as strategy and operations, financial responsibility, and stakeholder relations. The one key thing that you should take away from this lesson is that good governance is based on clear roles and responsibilities between the board, the owners, and the management team.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Identify the two main mechanisms of corporate governance
  • Understand various approaches to composing a board
  • Identify and apply the key responsibilities and reporting requirements of a board

Governance 201 by Dave Litwiller from Slideshare on Linkedin
Covers the difference between a Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, their roles and how they evolve over time.

Overview of Governance Models and Board Types by Mel Gill from Charity Village
A high level summary of different types of governance models that can be setup for different types of organizations.

Governance from the MaRS Library
Advice on selecting a Board of Directors and Board of Advisors.

How to build and manage a Board from Seedcamp
Tips on why and how to build an early-stage Board, as well as key considerations for Board meetings.

How to Build your Board of Advisors – A 3-Step Approach from Forbes
An article outlining a way for a small business owner to identify advisers and form a board of advisors.

Governance Excellence Model (GEM) – The Seven Disciplines of Governance Effectiveness from Strive
A presentation outlining each component of the GEM model with examples provided.

Create a Skills Matrix from Project Management for Dummies 
The Skills Matrix is used to confirm the skills, knowledge, and interest of your team members, as well as their interest in working on assignments using these skills and knowledge. The Skills Matrix is useful for helping a leader think about strengths and weaknesses for employees, to help assign tasks to get best results.

Lesson 6


Many business owners spend a lot of time on identifying how they will fund the development of their product or service and their business. For most small business owners, self-funding the entire development is just not possible. Being able to identify the appropriate funding sources and who should be targeted to receive investment from is critical.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

  • Define different types of investment
  • Determine why valuations of your company are needed for investment
  • Identify different types of investors
  • Have a general understanding of who investors are, what their investment levels are, and the various stages of investment that exist
  • Know how to pitch your business

A series of workbooks from the MaRS Library covering business planning and financing, geared towards attracting capital from outside investors.

Financial Accounting for MBAs. Fourth Edition. 2010. Cambridge Business Publishers by Easton, Peter et al.

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