By Mansoor Sarwar, Regional Director at Sage Middle East
For a business to enjoy long-term success, it must continue growing. To do this, you need to identify the opportunities your competitors may have missed and come up with ideas that will set you apart in the market. Growth doesn’t have to be the result of massive changes to your business model or product offering. It can also come from something small that distinguishes you from your peers.
Generating 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. What will you need to translate your big ambitions into business growth?
Researching and implementing strategies for growth
Ideas very rarely pop up. You will need to do your market research, which allows you to understand what your competitors are doing well, and what they’re struggling with. In addition, you will grasp what your customers derive value from, and what they’re looking to achieve from businesses like yours.
Here are several ideas you may consider as a suitable starting point:
Browse through competitor websites and social media profiles. Do they offer something you don’t already? What are people’s opinions of them? What are their key strengths and weaknesses? Ask customers for feedback on your products or services by running a simple survey on SurveyMonkey or similar platforms. Use these insights as the basis for change and innovation, and to grow your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses. 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 five growth strategies, which have their own levels of risk:
1. Market penetration
To increase your market penetration, you need to sell more of your existing products or services in your current markets. While this is a less risky strategy than most, be cautious about investing in this approach if your growth is reaching saturation, or if the uptake for your product is likely to drop because of emerging alternatives. A good example is how Netflix killed the DVD market.
2. Market development
Market development entails selling your existing products or services to new markets. This is a higher risk strategy because it may involve some capital outlay without any guarantee of a return on investment. As this strategy uses existing products, there are no development costs, helping to mitigate the risk to some degree.
3. Product or service innovation
Introducing a new product or service in the market today 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 their preferences and habits, and provide the most suitable offering.
Diversification is the strategy that attracts the highest risk since it entails entering new markets with new products. This means you have little to no experience of the product or the customers who are likely to purchase it. However, what this strategy does give you is a first-mover advantage if you have identified an opportunity in a specific market before anyone else.
5. Data, finances and people
To make an informed decision about which strategy is best for you, take a close look at the data available to you to increase your chances of success. To bring your growth strategy to life, make sure you have the right team in place. Since you may require additional funding to pay for new products, services, and markets you want to explore, ensure your finances are sound and 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 should always stand you in good stead.