If you’ve got a startup venture off the ground you probably thought you were past the tough bit of owning a business – but then there’s the need to grow your business!
Growth isn’t easy – if it were, we’d all be at the helm of billion pound organisations.
That said, with some solid foundations in place you’re likely to find growing your operations far easier. We’ll look at what those foundations are and how they can be used as part of a sustainable growth strategy…
Work with solid principles
When it comes to running a business you’re either going to forge your own path or get swept in various different directions with the changing needs of your business, your finances, customer requirements and so forth.
While some business agility is a good thing, if you want to create sustainable growth you’re going to need a roadmap – and not just one that charts your projections and goals.
Instead, think about doubling-down on the principles that underpin exactly what it is that you do. Maybe offering exceptional content is the thing that make your business who you are? If so, create more, delve into what people are looking for and answer their needs. Maybe the materials you use are ethically sourced? Shout about it, get accreditations that rubber stamp what you’re doing or write a book about how other people can follow in your footsteps.
Passionate principles are contagious – pursue them and watch customers become passionate about what you’re doing too.
Create a solid and powerful brand
There are many local and small companies doing branding really well, for example, Atlas Ceramics – but they’re only doing the same fundamentals that you can also do with your brand.
Let’s take Apple as an example:
When you see that symbol you know what to expect from the product or material it’s attached to; simplicity, exceptional usability, style, innovation – to name just a few. It’s well documented that Apple have done this by sticking to their solid principles and using them as checkmarks against which EVERYTHING they do is measured.
Have you ever seen an Apple product that doesn’t tick all of the above boxes? Unlikely – and you can do the same with your brand. Consider the most important principles at the core of your business and make sure they’re communicated in everything you do – not least your actions.
Find people you can rely on
When you’re recruiting or looking for partnership companies, you might put experience and knowledge at the top of your list – and to some degree that’s understandable. However, when it comes to having the right people to help you grow your business, there could be a better way.
Next time you’re talking to a job candidate or subcontracting company, talk to them about the service you want to deliver – and about the values you’ve built your business on. When you find people that respond to your questions with the passion that you have for those subjects – those people are likely to fit in well to the environment you’ll need to grow in the right direction.
That’s not to say that should ignore experience completely – but understand that it’s a lot easier to teach skills than it is to reshape a person’s attitude.
Hold on tight to your current customers
When you talk about growth in business most people envisage some kind of graph with an upward arrow and ‘sales’ somewhere on the page. Selling more of your product is one idea – but there’s another that’s easier to deliver:
Retain your current customers.
When it comes to easy business wins, it makes absolute sense to make your current customers feel valued and loved – thus repeating the repeat business rewards of doing so – than it is to go out and find more people who’ll order with you.
Instead of focusing your salespeople on getting more business from new sources, consider an incentive that encourages them to cement and maximise the relationships you have with your current customers.
Build around your current products
If you’ve got a solid brand and a great team who are keeping your customers onboard, it might be time to think about diversifying your product somewhat.
Now, which direction you move in is totally up to you – but we can almost guarantee that there’s scope for taking your brand somewhere new and doing another service or product just as well as you are your current business focus.
Let’s carry on with the Apple example:
Were Apple to create an office chair – would it sell?
You’re absolutely right it would, by the truckload – because the principles of design and function that Apple has become synonymous with would give office workers the world over the impression that their aching back was about to be gone forever.
Understand what people expect from your brand – and which products that it would give you a head-start with were you to expand your offering.
Be ready to truly lead
There are a lot of distinctions between someone who just manages and someone who truly leads – not least the impact that the two approaches have on your company’s ability to grow.
You’re one mind – and while you might have some great ideas, there’s a chance that you employ people who get a very real understanding of what your particular coalface is like every day they show up.
If you want to know what your customers want – do less guessing and more listening to the people who are talking to them each day. There’s an old adage about the customer being king – and frankly, it’s wrong. If you make your team the most important thing in your business, your customers will feel that automatically, owing to the new levels of expertise, support and care they receive at the hands of a valued group of people.
Unfortunately for you, being a decision maker and empowering your team means you’re going to have to start taking a lot less credit when things go well – and potentially supporting them by absorbing the flak when things don’t go to plan – but that’s all part of being a leader and having a team that’ll help your business grow.