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How to spot business growth opportunities

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Growth is important to the long-term success of your business.

To keep growing, you need to set yourself apart from your competitors. The best way to do this is by spotting opportunities they have missed and using those opportunities to generate new ideas that will help you meet and exceed customer expectations.

Researching your customers’ problems could spark ideas that could put you ahead of the competition. Some of these ideas may be as extreme as altering your business model or as small as changing the way you market your product.

It’s important to remember that, when thinking of new concepts, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. Something small and seemingly insignificant could snowball into a huge growth opportunity with a little tweak.

So, what should you do to turn your ideas into growth opportunities? Here are some ideas.

Do market research to uncover opportunities for growth

Getting out into the field and conducting market research is the quickest way to get inside the minds of your competitors and customers. What is your competition doing that’s working? What are consumers looking for from businesses like yours? What is your business doing right and what can you do better?

You can answer these questions through simple market research.

Here are some ideas on where to start:

  • Read the news and stay up to date with the latest industry trends. This will give you insight into shifting consumer expectations.
  • Analyse your competition. Look at their websites, social media pages, and newsletters. What products do you have that they don’t, and vice versa? What are people saying about them? How do they engage with their customers?
  • Conduct your own research or use consultants. You can run simple surveys on platforms like SurveyMonkey and Microsoft Forms to get feedback on your products and service. Analyse this feedback to uncover your strengths and weaknesses. What needs to change? If you have the budget, use the services of market research companies like Nielsen. They will conduct the research and unpack the insights for you.

Once you’ve done your research and have taken the time to dig into your findings and understand the results, you can start applying the insights. Here are four ways to do that:

  1. Market penetration

Increasing your market penetration carries the least amount of risk because you’re familiar with the space, but it’s a delicate balancing act. The risk is lower because you already know who your target market is and what products they use. Market penetration means you now need to reach more people in the same market. But don’t focus too much on this area, especially if you’re reaching saturation point. Technology is constantly changing and you run the risk of falling behind and losing out on new customers if competitors arrive on the scene with attractive alternatives.

  1. Market development

Here you’ll look to sell your existing products to new markets. This approach carries more risk than market penetration because you’ll have to invest time and possibly money in understanding the new market without the guarantee of seeing a profit. While you won’t need to develop new products, which will save on product development costs, you might have to look at new marketing techniques that resonate with your new target audience.

  1. Product or service innovation

Coming up with a new product or service will require more than just a monetary investment; you’ll also have to invest a lot of time in product development and staff training. Product and service innovation might work well with your existing customers because you can research additional needs and pain points and develop a new product that might prove to be a better offering.

  1. Diversification

Diversification carries the highest amount of risk because it requires you to develop a new product or service to sell to a new market. The risk comes in the lack of experience you’ll likely have in dealing with a new customer base and the uncertainty of whether they will purchase your products. However, you might also find yourself ahead of your competitors who have been slow to identify the gap.

Integrating your approach, team, and finances

Once you’ve decided on the right growth approach for your business, base all decisions on this strategy. Make sure to train your staff on the new direction, markets, and products. Don’t be afraid to hire new staff or to enlist the help of consultants to keep things on track.

A change in strategy might also require more capital investment. Manage your cashflow effectively and ensure that your finances are solid.

Growing your business isn’t easy and carries a number of risks, but doing your research and having a strong understanding of what your competitors are doing and what your customers need will make it easier to come up with fresh ideas that facilitate growth and put you ahead of the competition.

Regardless of whether you want to grow your business quickly or prefer to adopt a slower approach, the same strategies mentioned here still apply.