The last few months have been a challenging time, particularly if you have just started a new enterprise. Sometimes growing seems as far away as ever, and the uppermost thoughts are survival. But eventually the question arises : ‘how do I grow my business’. This is a key question to pose – and one that I have heard from many business leaders poised to reach new customers.
So here is the challenge. How do we put in place the right conditions to grow?
You may think that you’ve made all the adjustments you can or need to make already. It is more than likely that, if you examine your business, there is scope for more. Here are a few ideas for the short, medium and longer term. I hope they help.
Conduct a quick review (don’t take too long over it) both internally and with customers that examines what you currently do. Make that review continuous. Consider:
- Stopping doing those things that are no longer giving customers what they want or are no longer delivering profit at the optimum level to your business. Ask “would we be doing this if we were starting the business today?”
- With the capacity that exercise frees up, do more of the things that are working for your customers and bringing in a return on investment.
- Examining your asset base and existing contracts and looking for ways to release additional cash into the business. Only use that cash for projects that offer a good chance of payback.
- Check direct debits and other outgoings – are they all now necessary?
- Credit check your own business and remove any charges that are no longer relevant. They may be hampering your ability to finance the business. Would you invest in you?
Take what you do well into new markets and sectors. If you already export, consider growing your export base. If you don’t (yet) export, consider finding out how to get started. Get in touch with Scotland Development International. Many organisations, including financial institutions, run visits to emerging economies.
Consider if your product or service would work in the rapidly emerging markets in the Pacific Rim and South America. Growth in Europe and the USA is likely to be slower in the medium term than in some of the rising economies.
From the base that the short and medium term changes will generate, consider growing further by:
- Extending your product or service into new applications, sectors and markets
- Adding new products that extend your offer into your existing customer base. Find new suppliers or create them in house.
- Disrupting your market by delivering better, at lower cost or with more convenience than your competitors. Real market changes involve a move to a new level of service. Take time out to consider your game changers.
Finally, some tips on how you can differentiate your business from the competition:
- Scrupulous attention to the smallest of details. Aim for a superior image to that of your competitors.
- Committed and motivated staff. At all levels. At all times.
- Research. Capture your customer experience from what they love to what they don’t and tailor your product accordingly.
- If you are charging a premium price – how do you earn it? There is nothing worse, as a customer, than to receive a commodity service for a premium price.