I don’t gamble much, but I’m willing to make a bet with you.
Here it is: I bet if you continue to try and grow your business the way you are now, it won’t work.
Do you agree? If not, would you put money on it? I didn’t think so.
That’s because growing your business requires you to think in ways you probably never have. I know because I’ve been there – from struggling business owner to successfully selling it.
Sure, I understand you have a nice, safe path to growth, but does it really challenge what you’re capable of? I see this all the time; a business has forecast by end of year they will have achieved X, Y and Z. It sounds good and that’s what they teach you at university, but what if you changed your mindset to extend beyond and dream big?
Businessman Sam Walton famously said, “The secret to everything is having high expectations.”. He should know, he founded Walmart (although clearly his customers don’t have high expectations on dress sense when shopping at his centres.)
So, you can stay on your predicted path to growth and you’ll probably be mowed down by others with bigger vision. Or, you can increase your expectations and raise your growth target.
Do what Walton did, think big and allow your expectations to match true ideas and goals.
The British once dominated the world. I mean the business world in the 19th century (I’m not talking about when their military entered other countries pillaged and took over.) American, Japanese and Korean business later did similar and sought out opportunities to expand into new areas.
If you’re a business located in Melbourne but consistently get interest from interstate, that should be telling you something. It’s a potential opportunity worth investigation. Don’t view it as not core business or too difficult. In an ever-increasing globalised world, you need to be open to new possibilities.
First check regions for signs they’re not well serviced by your competitors. Again, if your competitors are located or service that area, it might indicate demand from the market.
Make sure you’re always on the lookout for untouched areas to expand into. There’s great merit in being first to arrive and build trust and relationships in new regions (unlike the British Empire).
You have your services all detailed and it works well, but have you asked yourself what else would your customers want from you?
Asking your customers what their pain-points are is paramount to keeping them. If you can offer a shift or transform your services to accommodate problems many customers are having, you’re on to a winner. Not many businesses or services solve any great issue for customers, it’s just something they might need (or want).
Imagine, based on research, if you created a service or product that did solve your customer’s problems. In the words of Charlie Sheen, that’s “winning”!
The sell becomes easy, because they trust you, you listened to them and are now offering something of real value.
As with the last point, if you can create a new product and you’ve done the research and it suggests it will be a hit with customers, then go for it. If the evidence stacks-up, nothing should hold you back from creating, testing and launching a new service or product line.
This has been one overriding success of Richard Branson. If he’d stayed safe in Virgin’s early days of selling records, it’s doubtful Virgin would still be here. Yet, he’s soon to take us to the moon. Branson has a long history of backing in ideas and building further on Virgin’s operations. Minus a few fails, the strategy has proven itself.
How are you getting your message heard by customers? Are you relying on the same strategy you used when you first went to market? Many do, yet it’s outdated and arguably wasn’t correct in the first place.
The digital age has given business an uncapped number of forums and mechanisms to increase profile and drive sales. YouTube, Facebook, email marketing campaigns etc. Or videos, podcasts or blogs. Do you know what your potential customers engage with?
Do some competitor research. If they’re clearly using podcasts as a communication device, chances are they’ve identified an audience there for them.
Look into extending your marketing and brand through new channels. However, make sure you get one right first before moving onto others. Otherwise you’ll be too busy creating videos, podcasts and blog while missing what really matters to your business.
If you can innovate around value, services and how you market them, it stands to reason that you can innovate with customers too. New customer streams can rapidly increase your growth.
Are there potential customers out there that just haven’t heard of you? Or do many not realise why they need your service? Make no mistake, retaining your current customers is more cost-effective and less time consuming, but allowing yourself to branch out could reap greater rewards.
If done correctly and in a sustainable way, on-boarding new customers is not difficult. Make sure you have sound infrastructure and processes, so each new customer feels confident in your business and therefore is more likely to stay a long-term prospect.
Businesses acquire other businesses all the time. The process is lengthy but the rewards great. I advise looking into acquiring businesses that are in your wheelhouse. It’s better if you know about their core operation before taking an interest in them.
Gordon Ramsey has made a career out of ‘rescuing’ restaurant owners who have been successful elsewhere and thought they could run an operation in a completely different field. As Ramsey would say, minus the expletives, you’re kidding yourself.
Smart acquisition can be a sound strategy to growing your business.
Now for what not to do
You have a business for a reason, don’t jeopardise it by straying too far from what you know and what your customers expect. As mentioned above, innovations that add value are great but wholesale changes to simply diversify isn’t a smart move.
If you don’t know about a different industry and it doesn’t match your current business operations, why would you?
You’re in business because you have something needed (or wanted) by your customers. You’re allowed a little variance but don’t move off-course too much. Modern day customer loyalty is hard to maintain if they’re not happy.
If you haven’t asked your customer and tested any services or products, why introduce something that’s unrelated to what you do and what your market wants? Quality service or product releases take time and require detailed analysis and strategy to be successful.
I’m not suggesting you need to implement all the above, but if you want to grow, I am suggesting you need to look beyond your current operation. Nobody in business who aspired to be, got where they are by playing safe and only doing what they thought possible. They dreamt big and achieved greater.
A business advisor is best placed to help you work through each idea above. With their experience in business and ability to challenge you, you will be able to grow and prosper in the future.
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