How do I speed up growth?
I’ve only been in business three years, but have grown steadily rather than spectacularly. I put much of this down to the recent credit crunch and recession. With the future growth of the economy likely to be slow for the next decade, what can I do to make sure my business bucks the general trend and grows more rapidly?
A. Robert Copping answers:
If you don’t have the luxury of operating in a growth market, the only way for your business to grow is by taking market share from competitors. Convenience, reliability, ease of use, design, functionality and service levels will differentiate your product or service. More market research will also help you reappraise your offering, so don’t make assumptions about what your target market wants now or in the future.
As budgets are squeezed, customers will take more interest in the value of a purchase. Only compete on price if you have a more efficient process, perhaps due to a technical advantage. Then share this advantage with your customer, don’t give it all away. Aim to trade at prices that enable you to maintain sensible margins as you grow.
In today’s connected world, building and maintaining a good reputation must be core to all your activities. Nothing in business acts in isolation and good processes and systems will help ensure consistent standards of service as your business grows. Make sure these are embedded before expansion because it’s much harder to repair a damaged reputation than to create a good one from a blank sheet.
To acquire new customers, set the level of your ambition out in your business plan. Your plan should have a marketing section that shows how you intend to attract the numbers of customers required to achieve your growth ambitions. Generating targets for each month, taking into account any seasonality, will help you budget and focus on achieving your desired level of growth.
Start with the lowest cost options, such as viral marketing, internet marketing, PR and partnerships. Then look at the more costly options such as advertising, exhibitions and telemarketing. A good spread of different mediums usually delivers the best results.
Now monitor which promotional channels are working most effectively. Use web analytics, separate telephone numbers and codes on promotions as well as simply asking new customers how they heard about you. If you fail to achieve a target, don’t just accept it, try to work out what isn’t working and then modify it, as well as adding new initiatives. Setting targets and monitoring progress is the best way to deliver your desired growth regardless of the economic climate.
Robert Copping has written an e-book: The 5 Essentials to Reach Your Desired Business Valuation in Your Chosen Timescale, which you can download, free of charge at: www.increasebusinessvalue.com