There is only growing business or dying business. There is nothing called a matured business. Everything is evolving and constantly changing including businesses, markets and consumers. Growth starts with a point of view and it often takes place when you stand up for a courageous idea supported with a solid strategy.
Strategy starts with understanding the difference between what you offer to customer through your business and what really customers want, which often turn out to be not the same in most cases.
You need to be alert in figuring out, what’s going on around you. What’s happening to your market place? How the needs of consumers are changing? What are the new opportunities you can spot? What are the new trends?
If you keep an open mind with right frame of questioning, you can eventually grow your business from where you are to where you want to be.
Growing business is a creative exercise. It does not require a degree or license. It requires basic childlike qualities like curiosity, inquisitiveness, imagination and enthusiasm backed with information, knowledge and skills. Strategic thinking is essential to business growth and in this ever faster changing world it has become a necessity. Business leaders must ask questions like what’s next?; what can be a better offering to customers?; or how to enlarge their ponds?; before it is too late to prepare their companies to adapt to rampant changes.
Remember that, growth in any business is the growth in its leader’s mind set and how he is able to communicate that broader vision to his people. When leaders think and act progressively, they send signals and cues to their entire organization. Customers will soon catch on to the valuable offers a company is able to offer due to the company’s progressive thinking.
Progressive thinking give ways to new ideas, practices, higher standards and values and this will increase the emotional energy of its people. It also attracts more customers to your business.
But thinking alone does not do all the tricks. Companies grow through their decisions to grow and what ultimately matters is what actions they take to accomplish a desired growth. There are many ways to grow your business. Here are seven ways that really work.
1. Grow your market.
Companies that want growth are always thinking about growing their market. They want to broaden their pond by playing on bigger fields like expanding their territories or finding new customer base. Increasing the market share is the name of the game.
There are several ways of expanding the reach to your customers. One way of looking at is finding new geographical locations to market your products and services. For small time companies with outstanding offers, developing marketing partnerships with others will be an option to go national or international.
Another way to maximize customer reach is by increasing product and service awareness.
Marketing strategy should be able to fully tap the existing customer base. A partially untapped market can only pave ways to more competitions. Therefore increase your market penetration with the existing offer or add value to your offer. Reaching out to your ‘ideal customers’ is the key to successful marketing. Make value added and irresistible offers to your customers to increase your market share.
In a completely exploited market with certain products and services, increasing product range is another strategy to grow your business. Once you have a trusted customer base, expand your products and services offer.
Several companies have successfully expanded their market share with a ‘re-segmentation strategy’ by identifying and exploiting the unmet needs of customers. Through varied segmentations like – fairness cream for men, women and teens, companies like Fair & Lovely expanded their market share in the fairness market.
2. Innovate your business
The leaders of growing companies realize that constantly innovating business is the key to a sustainable future. Innovation is not always about coming up with a new product or services. It also means how you can change the way, you market your products. Dell computers used a direct marketing distribution model to reach out to your customers, when most of the computer companies were using traditional retail channel. When Domino’s Pizza wanted to innovate their business model, they became the first pizza company to create a ‘30 minute express door step pizza delivery’ model.
Look out for new distribution channels and find alternative methods to distribute your products and services. Innovation in marketing is the modern day weapon to capture a market, when traditional marketing system fails. The commodity is not important the way it is delivered is important.
Open new market by developing new technology, products or services through innovation. Innovation leads to growth. Best way to innovate your business is to do your business in a different way. Growing companies reinvent themselves.
3. Identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and become a brand.
If your business and the product and services you offer are not unique, you are just like everybody else. If you are not a brand, you are just a commodity. A commodity market is too crowded. Branded market is the growing organized market. A brand will make the distinction in consumer’s mind. A brand signifies the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of your company, product or services.
Most of the business owners do not know their Unique Selling Proposition (USP), but they assume they know it already. They will say that their products are reliable, it has value for money, long lasting, and better quality etc. Now that’s what everyone says. To know your USP, you must know your competitive advantage. Know your competitive advantage and use them to differentiate your business from the rest of your competition. Competitive advantage is what separates you from the rest of the herd. It is what keeps your business alive and growing. In short it is the reason you are in business.
To become competitive, you have to become more conscious about why you are in business in the first place and what you are delivering that makes you unique.
Once you know what you stand for, the customers will choose you.
Competitive advantage goes by other names, as well like USP, unique offering, distinguished features, differentiators, core discriminating benefits of your product and services to customers. This is a rational and objective statement about your product, service or company that no other business offers. It could be inventing a new category altogether where there is no one to compete with you. It is not a cliché but it is your biggest claim to your customers. The major advantage with competitive advantage is that once it is convincing to your prospects, closing any deal is easy.
Most of the businesses tend to use ‘price’ as their competitive factor. It is only a short term remedy. There will be some one soon to under cut your offer and call themselves ‘cheap and best’. Look out ways to be different from others. Make your offering unique and build trust and reputation around your competitive advantage.
4. Build leadership at all levels.
Make people at all levels accountable, responsible, disciplined and pro active. Bring organizational structure and alignment that function in unison to achieve the common goals. A business is basically a collection of people working towards a common economic goal.
Leadership stands for spotting opportunity while management stands for resolving problems. Having leadership at all levels is not bureaucracy. It is organization.
Never become an overmanned organization burdened with multiple layers of management. Simplify the management. People do not need to be controlled, they need to be directed. The best way to exercise leadership within the organization is making people responsible for their decisions and behavior.
A company’s overall performance is simply the sum total of all actions and decisions that people inside it take everyday. Who gets to make what decisions at your company? And what information, constraints, tools, and incentives affect the way they evaluate those decisions?
Give ‘decisions rights’ to your people and redesign your organization model based on each person’s powers and responsibilities. Decisions rights determine not only who is responsible for what choices but also how well an organization function and how quickly they can get results.
What is running as life blood within the cells of leadership is a free flow of information.
Make communication open and simple. This will build trust and loyalty at all levels. Relationships are strengthened through transparency. Conspiracies destroy the management. Transparency strengthens human bonds.
5. Have a Vision of the future, knowledge of the past and awareness of the present.
Companies that have clear vision about the future of their business can invent their future while others who have no idea what future may bring may have to succumb to unseen circumstances.
Companies grow from their past performances and lessons they have learned. What is equally important is the awareness of the present.
When all these are in right perspectives companies can gear up themselves to grow a sustainable future.
What leaders need is to cultivate a shared vision for growth. A shared vision emerges from the intersection of personal visions and helps create a sense of commitment to the long term. Shared vision cannot exist without personal vision. An organization must start the process of building a shared vision by encouraging others to create personal visions. Everyone must see a part of his or her personal vision in the shared vision. Shared vision takes time to emerge and requires on-going dialogue where advocacy is balanced with inquiry. By sharing and listening to each other’s personal visions, new insights will surface that continually shape the shared vision for continuous growth.
6. Invest on your people.
All people are not your assets in your organization, only the right people are. Growing companies invest on the growth of their employees. Employee’s growth in emotional well being, skill building and competency are essential for organizational growth. Growth driven companies make their people competent through ‘skill building’ training, workshops and expose them to other markets through seminars and expositions. As a result people get motivated. Employees feel they are cared by their management. This will increase the morale and productivity.
It is also essential to recognize and reward performance. The organization’s failure to distinguish exceptional employees from poor performance breeds complacency and frustrates strong performers, who tend to leave for more merit-based opportunities.
Growing companies make their work into play, their jobs into fun and challenging at the same time.
Employee motivation is vital. A motivated work force is a power house of productivity.
Growing companies work on building the emotional equity of their people.
Emotional equity refers to the alignment of employees- as evidenced by their psychic energy, trust, and willingness to follow leaders eagerly and give 100% to the effort- with their company and goals. People with ‘emotional equity’ work in unison and synchronization with teams. They pay attention to more of results and to being effective than to the number of hours they put into work. This will put passion into work. People become purposeful. Purposeful driven people are zealous and result oriented. They see themselves fitting into a larger frame bigger than their ambitions. Engaged employees are your company’s emotional transmitters. They pass on their positive impressions about their employer to the customers that they interact with on a daily basis.
7. Become a customer centric organization
All business exists for customers. All business grows when more customers are brought in to serve. Most of the functions of any business are customer acquisition, retention and customer service. Growing companies make themselves more valuable by providing more value to their customers.
Customer satisfaction alone can not retain a customer.
Customers can find satisfaction with any number of your competitors. What they can’t easily find, however, is a unique emotional experience. In this light, your company may be more associated with a feeling than with a product.
Customer engagement is the key to unlocking long-term customer loyalty. Engaged customers feel emotionally connected to their favorite brands. They may be aware that they could obtain a similar product for a lower price, but their relationship with a certain company makes them willing to spend more. Research in customer satisfaction validates that; without a strong emotional connection, consumers are willing to quit a company as soon as a competitor offers a lower price.
Everything must be built around your customer, right from your marketing strategy.
Remember that your marketing strategy starts, ends, lives and dies with your customer.
So in the development of your marketing strategy, it is absolutely imperative that you forget about your dreams, forget about your visions, forget about your interests, forget about what you want- forget about everything except your customer!
When it come to marketing, what you want is unimportant. It is what your customer wants is important.
As a business owner or manager your biggest threat is losing sight of your most important target- your customer.
Grow your company around your customers with a motivated work force willing to serve their customers 24/7 and expand your markets to the new heights through constant innovation