Press Coverage - Five Successful Growth Strategies
There’s almost always room to grow as a company, but identifying the best way to become bigger is often tricky, especially when you’re concentrating on consolidating your current successes. Here are a few proven ideas you could learn from.
1. Take your growth one step at a time
Rushing business growth can cause you to make mistakes, but consideration and careful planning can help you to negotiate this, says James Hind, founder of car review aggregator carwow.
“It’s extremely important not to rush ahead and jump the gun when trying to scale, because that ultimately leads to mistakes and can be counterproductive to your growth goals,” James explains, revealing that he took a steady approach when growing his own business.
“From the beginning, we knew that the success of the site was dependent on getting the product right for individual sub-markets first,” he says. “While we could have launched all manufacturers at once, we knew that this could have had a negative impact on our attempts to scale if there were any teething issues.
“So, we launched Volkswagen first, sold 400 of them and got that working smoothly over a year. Once visitors could use the platform without any signs of a glitch, we launched Audi and nearly doubled the volume of sales within a few months. We kept this progressive roll-out approach going until we had all of the brands on the site that we were aiming for."
2. Turn your business into a franchise
According to the bfa/NatWest Franchise Survey 2015, franchising contributes £15.1bn to the UK economy, an increase of 46% over the past 10 years. Some of the country’s biggest chains are actually franchises – including second-hand goods outlet CeX, professional hairdresser Rush and shoe retailer Clarks.
One reason for this popularity, claims the survey, is that commercial failure rates for franchises are “incredibly small relative to failure rates for SMEs generally”. Carl Reader, author of The Startup Coach, believes it’s a great route to growth.
“Hundreds of UK businesses currently use franchising as a route for expansion, from sole traders to international corporates,” he explains.
“Brands such as Toni & Guy started out as SMEs and embraced franchising as a way to achieve rapid growth. Wilkins Chimney Sweep, a stereotypical owner-operator business based in Newbury, has successfully franchised in 10 locations.
“As the franchisees are putting their own money on the line, they are often far more incentivised than an employed manager in a corporate chain – and 97% of franchisees report profitability, according to the bfa/NatWest survey.”
3. Invest in the right talent at the top
Any business, whatever its shape and size, can benefit from experience at the boardroom level. In fact, according to executive search and interim management firm Intramezzo, not having the right board make-up is one major way to hamper your growth. The Intramezzo Talent Capital Report found that the quality and strength of the leadership team was a top factor in gaining investment, with 85% of respondents unlikely or highly unlikely to back a company that lacked the right skills.
“Having the right people in place to propel the business through its next phase of growth is crucial,” says Dermot Hill, CEO of Intramezzo. "A successful talent strategy is dependent on recognising whether the existing leadership team is capable of meeting not only current objectives but also the longer-term ambitions of the business.”
4. Consider export opportunities
Finding new customers is an obvious way to boost your business, but many UK companies neglect the opportunities that exporting to markets overseas can bring, fearing it to be too complicated or expensive. The government’s Exporting is GREAT initiative, launched last November, aims to tackle this.
“Many companies hesitate before taking the export plunge, but they shouldn’t, as 85% of organisations that have worked with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) say that exporting has led to a level of growth otherwise not possible, whilst 73% say that it has increased the commercial lifespan of their products or services,” reveals Dr Catherine Raines, UKTI chief executive.
“Firms that choose to export also report a 34% boost to productivity in their first year, while those already exporting achieve 59% faster productivity growth than non-exporters.”
5. Collaborate with other SMEs and freelancers
SMEs account for 99% of private sector business, so you certainly aren’t alone. With so many other businesses out there just like you, the quickest way to growth can be through a simple and informal tie-up or collaboration. Becoming a member of a local networking group such as 4Networking can often help establish these relationships, helping to gain and give referrals while also hearing about work you could join forces on.
Patrick Gallagher, CEO at CitySprint, is a big believer in collaboration.
“Our research found 86% of SMEs who partnered with others during the economic downturn say that they are now in better shape financially and less concerned about the future of their business,” he says. “With so many challenges ahead for businesses, pooling resources and talent is the best bet to achieve ambitious growth plans.”
So if you are looking to grow your business in 2016, make sure you are well prepared, consider every opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask forhelp.