For a business to enjoy long-term success, it needs to keep growing. To do this, you need to identify opportunities your competitors have missed and come up with ideas that will set you apart in the market.
Growth doesn’t have to come from massive changes to your business model or product offering. It can also come from something small that makes you stand out from the crowd.
Coming up with great ideas usually begins with gathering insights into unmet customer needs and looking into the problems people are trying to solve. Ideas are the essence of a healthy business, so try to stay open-minded. It might require only a small change for an idea to grow into a viable business opportunity.
So, what will you need to convert your big ambitions into growth for your business?
Researching and implementing strategies for growth
Ideas don’t simply pop up. Well, very rarely at least. You will need to do your market research. This allows you to understand what your competitors are doing well, and what they’re struggling with, as well as what your customers derive value from, and what they’re looking for from businesses like yours that they have yet to receive.
Consider these as a starting point:
- Browse competitors’ websites and social media profiles. Do they offer something you don’t? What are people’s opinions on them? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- Ask customers for feedback on your products or services by running a simple survey on SurveyMonkey or the like. Use these insights to grow your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses, and use them as a basis for change and innovation.
- To stay up to date with trends, read local and international trade and business media.
Once you have done the research, you can start to apply your insights to these four growth strategies, which have their own level of risk:
To increase your market penetration, you need to sell more of your existing products or services in your existing markets. While this is a less risky strategy than most, you need to be cautious of investing in this approach if your growth is reaching saturation, or if the desire for your product is likely to drop because of new alternatives. A good example is how Netflix killed the DVD market.
Market development entails selling your existing products or services to new markets. This is a higher-risk strategy because it could involve some capital outlay without any guarantee of a return on investment. Because this strategy uses existing products, there are no product development costs, which helps to mitigate the risk somewhat.
Product or service innovation
Introducing a new product or service could mean a substantial investment of time and money on product development, training, and marketing. By focusing on existing customers, you can learn more about them and provide the most suitable offering.
Diversification is the highest risk strategy because it entails entering new markets with new products, which means you have little to no experience of the product, or the customers who are likely to purchase it. What this strategy does give you, however, is a first-mover advantage if you have identified an opportunity in a specific market before anyone else.
Data, finances and people
To decide which strategy you’re going to follow, have a look at all the data that is available to you in order to make the best decision and increase your chances of success. To bring your growth strategy to life, make sure you have the right team in place.
Because you could require additional funding to pay for the new products, services, and markets you want to explore, be sure that your finances are in good standing, and that you’re keeping an eye on your cash flow.
Whether you’re considering a rapid growth strategy, or plan to take a slow and steady approach, the same thinking and planning always applies.