Stage 4: Growing Your Business

Launch your business and make it operational

Turn your plans and ideas into something tangible.

Start business operations and tell the world that you are open for business.

Business growing stage: Issues to address

Before you set out to run a business, there are issues that you need to research and decide on. Going through these may take you some time but it can save you a lot of pain in the future. The business planning stage helps you decide if your business has any real chance at success.

Embrace technology

Embrace technology to achieve increased productivity and lower cost structures as a result of automation. Technology has important effects on your business operations. No matter the size of your business, technology has both tangible and intangible benefits that will help you make money and produce the results your customers demand. Technological infrastructure affects the culture, efficiency and relationships of a business.

 

Communication with customers

In today’s busy business environment, it is necessary for employees to interact with clients quickly and clearly. Social media and your website allow customers to find answers to their questions after hours. Also, your website will allow your business to move products over a large geographic area. When customers use technology to interact with your business, the business benefits because better communication creates a stronger public image.

Efficiency of operations

Technology also helps a business understand its cash flow needs and preserve precious resources such as time. For example, Quickbooks assists in keeping track of all basic transactions, such as sales receipts, invoices, and checks. With proper technology in place such as Skype, you can save time and money by holding meetings over the Internet instead of at corporate headquarters.

 

Easier storage

Technology eliminates the need for double or triple entry systems and reduces the need to file large amounts of paperwork. Now, contracts and customer information can be stored in virtual data warehouses and accessed in minutes, which cuts down on the need to purchase or rent storage space.

 

Research capacity

A business that has the technological capacity to research new opportunities will stay a step ahead of its competition. For a business to survive, it must grow and acquire new opportunities. The Internet allows a business to virtually travel into new markets without the cost of travelling.

Diversification

Expand into markets or products that are not related to your current business. You will be offering a product or service that is completely new and is being introduced into a new market. An example of diversification is Econet Wireless. It began as a telecommunications company, later expanding into mobile money services, insurance, education, and agriculture amongst other services. There are two types of diversification

 

Related Diversification: The organisation stays within a market they have familiarity with.

Unrelated Diversification: The organisation moves into a market or industry they have no experience with. This is considered a high risk strategy.

Market extension

Offer your products or services to a wider section of an existing market or into a new demographic, psychographic or geographic market. There are several examples of firms that target a new market with existing products. They include leading Zimbabwean firms like Nash paints and Nyaradzo funeral services, which have entered international markets for expansion. These companies continue to expand their brands across new regional markets. That’s the perfect example of market extension. For a smaller enterprise, this strategy entails expanding from a current market to another market where its product does not currently compete, for example, Eat n’ Lick expanding into Plumtree.

Partnerships

Develop successful, long term, strategic relationships between your company and your customers and suppliers. By forming strategic partnerships with other businesses that offer complementary products and services, you can cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship that will help both of your businesses grow.

You need to know the type of partnerships that make sense for the growth of your business growth before you form a partnership. There are three situations in which you can align your company with other organizations to achieve business growth.

 

Promotion

Partner with other businesses who can help promote what you sell and you’ll cast a wider net. Promotional partners are the people who send potential customers to your website, launch, or exhibition event to sign up and eventually buy. Having promotional partners will help you cast a wider net. Here’s an example of how this can work effectively in your business.

If you have a launch event you’re using to promote your new products, you want to have as many people in attendance and on the list to appreciate your products as possible. If you choose a new partner who has a list size of 15,000 to help you promote your launch event, chances are you’ll receive about 20% of that list signed up. 3,000 people register, but then only 1,000 will actually attend. Of those in attendance, 30 will become customers. If you sell your product for $100, you’ll get $3,000 of new revenue plus 1,000 new leads from your promotional partner.

 

Distribution

Distributors want to get your products into as many hands as possible. They do the heavy lifting for you to increase sales. It’s a win-win. You have a distributor eager to sell your product to their already in-tune audience, while you bring in more sales, customers, and profits from their hard work. Here are a few examples of popular distributors you might have heard of who are doing this for their partners already:

  • Cocacola has a Bottlers’ Agreement with Delta Beverages.
  • Brands Africa distributes RedBull products.
  • Gary Thompson & Associates endorses Steward Bank.

Look within your niche to find the major influencers. Then, partner with these influencers to distribute your product or service to their already existing large audience.

 

 

Social good

Your partnerships don’t have to be directly related to your day-to-day operations. Partnering with nonprofit organizations or causes specific to your core value can also have a tremendous impact on your business growth. Customers love to see companies give back. Here are a few ways you can do this in your business.

  • Sponsor a sports club or event, for example, BancAbc sponsors the Highlanders and Dynamos football clubs.
  • Econet has Joshua Nkomo scholarships for A Level and University new entrants.
  • As a small organization, you can offer raffle prizes as a fundraiser for local organizations.

 

Find the social cause that makes the most sense for your business. Align yourself with the event and engage the audience. Your brand will automatically be associated with a fun and socially good cause, making it stand out from the competition.

 

Advantages of business partnerships

  • You have easier access to new audiences
  • You get your product out to market faster than if you had done it alone
  • Your business leverages another brand’s reputation to boost its own brand image.
  • It helps you to fill any competency gaps, for instance, let the marketing experts do what they know best.
  • With partnerships you become more competitive by getting more exposure

Marketing

Make use of promotional tools that create consumer awareness about a company’s products and services and drive business growth. Promotional tools can include:

  • advertising – you can advertise your product, service or brand in newspapers, radio, television, magazines, outdoor signage and online.
  • personal selling or telemarketing – effective personal selling relies on good interpersonal and communication skills, excellent product and service knowledge and the ability to sell product benefits to prospective customers.
  • publicity – created by sending media releases to print and broadcasting media, giving interviews to the media and from word-of-mouth.
  • short-term sales promotions – market your product or service using coupons, competitions and contests. Examples include the OK Grand Challenge and the TM Pick n Pay Bonanza

Scaling

Set the stage so as to enable and support growth in your company. Your business scales when it can cope with an increased amount of work while maintaining or actually reducing its total operating costs. This means that your revenue has increased whilst you are maintaining your current expenditure, hence you obtain an increased net income.

Here are five effective, actionable steps businesses can take toward scaling your business:

  •  You must develop a plan and action steps for how this will be achieved.
  • Find ways to automate your processes such as using CRM systems for managing customer relationships.
  • Identify your competitive edge, understand the core strengths of your business so you can invest in focused growth.
  • Focus on the right things, that is, the key activities that will move your business forward in a focused and strategic way.
  • Build your network with the right connections. This is key to effectively scaling your business and long-term growth.

New product

Introduce newer products in the market especially when your company has a good customer base and you know that the market for your existing product has reached saturation. You should understand your customer’s underlying needs and wants better so that you can see opportunities for new products.

You can offer new products by doing any of the following;

  • Replacing existing products with something better.
  • Providing complementary products that customers need to buy before, during or after purchase of the main product sold by the business.
  • Selling other unrelated products as a way to strengthen or leverage the relationship and to provide added convenience. Think of a one stop shop.

Target big tenders

A tender usually refers to the process whereby governments and other big companies invite bids for large projects that must be submitted within a finite deadline. Here is why you should target big tenders:

 

Bidding increases your profile The mere act of being included and taking part in a major bid can raise your company’s profile. This may reap rewards in future bids. It may also encourage the awarding authority to include you in future bids or indeed to ask you to supply other services.

 

Promoting your brand If developed properly a well designed and thought out proposal can promote your brand. It provides the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge, and illustrate that you are an expert in your area of operation. It also provides a platform to include testimonials from successful projects that you have undertaken.

 

Team building Any major bid requires efficient team building and team management. Whether you win or not, the experience of project managing the proposal will help you develop an efficient process for bid management and also help you identify the real resources needed to take part in a major tender. Another benefit is the opportunity to identify key individuals within your organisation that can play a significant role in bid strategy and delivery.

 

Post mortem If you do not win the tender it is important that you find out why. Even it is simply a case of cost it allows you to assess your costing structure for future, similar tenders. If it is for other reasons such as experience or project management expertise, it allows you to revise business processes throughout your organisation that can be applied to all areas of operation.

Specialization

Growth will happen from reputation, advertising and the service you deliver. All of this is much easier when you specialize instead of generalize. Specializing is often just looking at things differently and focusing on a more simplified or direct approach. Think about how your organization can specialize your services, your market or your goals for business growth.

Here are a few of the specific benefits associated with specialization:

 

Higher perception of being knowledgeable

If you have tax issues, who do you perceive as being more authoritative and knowledgeable – a general business consultant or a tax consultant specializing in company taxes? That’s obviously a rhetorical question. The individual with the specialty is viewed as authoritative.

When your business decides to specialize, it automatically garners a higher perception of authority in the marketplace. This can allow you to charge more, while also accepting fewer clients.

 

Better learning experience

There’s a lot that goes into running a successful business including staying up to date on new trends, best practices, and developments. If you’re in an industry where innovation happens at a swift pace – such as in medicine or IT – then you’re all-too familiar with this challenge.

By specializing, you can lighten your load by reducing the learning curve. When you’re only focused on one or two niches, you’ll find it easier to focus your time and attention. This results in better comprehension and expertise.

 

Better value proposition

When you specialize, you’re able to provide your target market with a superior value proposition over companies that generalize in a related field. You essentially become a bigger fish in a smaller pond, as opposed to the other way around.This reduces the number of companies can compete with you for that specialist work. Furthermore, you are able to offer services that are not replicated by automated tools or that justify being a permanent part of an in-house team.

 

Better networking

Finally, specialization leads to better networking opportunities. This is simply a result of the environment your business runs in. When you specialize, you’ll see an increase in word of mouth marketing. You’ll also discover that you’re interacting with people and organizations that are closely linked to your area of specialty. This means you’re more likely to strike up profitable relationships.

Start selling online

Selling online will make you reach markets that you would have otherwise not reached when selling physically. Your business will achieve growth because of the following;

  • Reduced order processing costs – customer orders can automatically come straight into your orders database from the website.
  • By selling online, you reach a global audience, thereby increasing sales opportunities.
  • You compete with larger businesses by being able to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Selling online allows you to reduce the number of physical offices or location. This then eliminates costs such as rent, electricity and water charges.

Embrace technology

Embrace technology

Embrace technology to achieve increased productivity and lower cost structures as a result of automation. Technology has important effects on your business operations. No matter the size of your business, technology has both tangible and intangible benefits that will help you make money and produce the results your customers demand. Technological infrastructure affects the culture, efficiency and relationships of a business.

 

Communication with customers

In today’s busy business environment, it is necessary for employees to interact with clients quickly and clearly. Social media and your website allow customers to find answers to their questions after hours. Also, your website will allow your business to move products over a large geographic area. When customers use technology to interact with your business, the business benefits because better communication creates a stronger public image.

 

 

Efficiency of operations

Technology also helps a business understand its cash flow needs and preserve precious resources such as time. For example, Quickbooks assists in keeping track of all basic transactions, such as sales receipts, invoices, and checks. With proper technology in place such as Skype, you can save time and money by holding meetings over the Internet instead of at corporate headquarters.

 

Easier storage

Technology eliminates the need for double or triple entry systems and reduces the need to file large amounts of paperwork. Now, contracts and customer information can be stored in virtual data warehouses and accessed in minutes, which cuts down on the need to purchase or rent storage space.

 

Research capacity

A business that has the technological capacity to research new opportunities will stay a step ahead of its competition. For a business to survive, it must grow and acquire new opportunities. The Internet allows a business to virtually travel into new markets without the cost of travelling.

Diversification

Diversification

Expand into markets or products that are not related to your current business. You will be offering a product or service that is completely new and is being introduced into a new market. An example of diversification is Econet Wireless. It began as a telecommunications company, later expanding into mobile money services, insurance, education, and agriculture amongst other services. There are two types of diversification

 

Related Diversification: The organisation stays within a market they have familiarity with.

Unrelated Diversification: The organisation moves into a market or industry they have no experience with. This is considered a high risk strategy.

Market extension

Market extension

Offer your products or services to a wider section of an existing market or into a new demographic, psychographic or geographic market. There are several examples of firms that target a new market with existing products. They include leading Zimbabwean firms like Nash paints and Nyaradzo funeral services, which have entered international markets for expansion. These companies continue to expand their brands across new regional markets. That’s the perfect example of market extension. For a smaller enterprise, this strategy entails expanding from a current market to another market where its product does not currently compete, for example, Eat n’ Lick expanding into Plumtree.

Partnerships

Partnerships

Develop successful, long term, strategic relationships between your company and your customers and suppliers. By forming strategic partnerships with other businesses that offer complementary products and services, you can cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship that will help both of your businesses grow.

You need to know the type of partnerships that make sense for the growth of your business growth before you form a partnership. There are three situations in which you can align your company with other organizations to achieve business growth.

 

Promotion

Partner with other businesses who can help promote what you sell and you’ll cast a wider net. Promotional partners are the people who send potential customers to your website, launch, or exhibition event to sign up and eventually buy. Having promotional partners will help you cast a wider net. Here’s an example of how this can work effectively in your business.

If you have a launch event you’re using to promote your new products, you want to have as many people in attendance and on the list to appreciate your products as possible. If you choose a new partner who has a list size of 15,000 to help you promote your launch event, chances are you’ll receive about 20% of that list signed up. 3,000 people register, but then only 1,000 will actually attend. Of those in attendance, 30 will become customers. If you sell your product for $100, you’ll get $3,000 of new revenue plus 1,000 new leads from your promotional partner.

 

Distribution

Distributors want to get your products into as many hands as possible. They do the heavy lifting for you to increase sales. It’s a win-win. You have a distributor eager to sell your product to their already in-tune audience, while you bring in more sales, customers, and profits from their hard work. Here are a few examples of popular distributors you might have heard of who are doing this for their partners already:

  • Cocacola has a Bottlers’ Agreement with Delta Beverages.
  • Brands Africa distributes RedBull products.
  • Gary Thompson & Associates endorses Steward Bank.

Look within your niche to find the major influencers. Then, partner with these influencers to distribute your product or service to their already existing large audience.

 

 

Social good

Your partnerships don’t have to be directly related to your day-to-day operations. Partnering with nonprofit organizations or causes specific to your core value can also have a tremendous impact on your business growth. Customers love to see companies give back. Here are a few ways you can do this in your business.

  • Sponsor a sports club or event, for example, BancAbc sponsors the Highlanders and Dynamos football clubs.
  • Econet has Joshua Nkomo scholarships for A Level and University new entrants.
  • As a small organization, you can offer raffle prizes as a fundraiser for local organizations.

 

Find the social cause that makes the most sense for your business. Align yourself with the event and engage the audience. Your brand will automatically be associated with a fun and socially good cause, making it stand out from the competition.

 

Advantages of business partnerships

  • You have easier access to new audiences
  • You get your product out to market faster than if you had done it alone
  • Your business leverages another brand’s reputation to boost its own brand image.
  • It helps you to fill any competency gaps, for instance, let the marketing experts do what they know best.
  • With partnerships you become more competitive by getting more exposure

Marketing

Marketing

Make use of promotional tools that create consumer awareness about a company’s products and services and drive business growth. Promotional tools can include:

  • advertising – you can advertise your product, service or brand in newspapers, radio, television, magazines, outdoor signage and online.
  • personal selling or telemarketing – effective personal selling relies on good interpersonal and communication skills, excellent product and service knowledge and the ability to sell product benefits to prospective customers.
  • publicity – created by sending media releases to print and broadcasting media, giving interviews to the media and from word-of-mouth.
  • short-term sales promotions – market your product or service using coupons, competitions and contests. Examples include the OK Grand Challenge and the TM Pick n Pay Bonanza

 

Scaling

Scaling

Set the stage so as to enable and support growth in your company. Your business scales when it can cope with an increased amount of work while maintaining or actually reducing its total operating costs. This means that your revenue has increased whilst you are maintaining your current expenditure, hence you obtain an increased net income.

Here are five effective, actionable steps businesses can take toward scaling your business:

  •  You must develop a plan and action steps for how this will be achieved.
  • Find ways to automate your processes such as using CRM systems for managing customer relationships.
  • Identify your competitive edge, understand the core strengths of your business so you can invest in focused growth.
  • Focus on the right things, that is, the key activities that will move your business forward in a focused and strategic way.
  • Build your network with the right connections. This is key to effectively scaling your business and long-term growth.

New product

New product

Introduce newer products in the market especially when your company has a good customer base and you know that the market for your existing product has reached saturation. You should understand your customer’s underlying needs and wants better so that you can see opportunities for new products.

You can offer new products by doing any of the following;

  • Replacing existing products with something better.
  • Providing complementary products that customers need to buy before, during or after purchase of the main product sold by the business.
  • Selling other unrelated products as a way to strengthen or leverage the relationship and to provide added convenience. Think of a one stop shop.

Target big tenders

Target big tenders

A tender usually refers to the process whereby governments and other big companies invite bids for large projects that must be submitted within a finite deadline. Here is why you should target big tenders:

 

Bidding increases your profile
The mere act of being included and taking part in a major bid can raise your company’s profile. This may reap rewards in future bids. It may also encourage the awarding authority to include you in future bids or indeed to ask you to supply other services.

 

Promoting your brand
If developed properly a well designed and thought out proposal can promote your brand. It provides the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge, and illustrate that you are an expert in your area of operation. It also provides a platform to include testimonials from successful projects that you have undertaken.

 

Team building
Any major bid requires efficient team building and team management. Whether you win or not, the experience of project managing the proposal will help you develop an efficient process for bid management and also help you identify the real resources needed to take part in a major tender. Another benefit is the opportunity to identify key individuals within your organisation that can play a significant role in bid strategy and delivery.

 

Post mortem
If you do not win the tender it is important that you find out why. Even it is simply a case of cost it allows you to assess your costing structure for future, similar tenders. If it is for other reasons such as experience or project management expertise, it allows you to revise business processes throughout your organisation that can be applied to all areas of operation.

Specialization

Specialization

Growth will happen from reputation, advertising and the service you deliver. All of this is much easier when you specialize instead of generalize. Specializing is often just looking at things differently and focusing on a more simplified or direct approach. Think about how your organization can specialize your services, your market or your goals for business growth.

Here are a few of the specific benefits associated with specialization:

 

Higher perception of being knowledgeable

If you have tax issues, who do you perceive as being more authoritative and knowledgeable – a general business consultant or a tax consultant specializing in company taxes? That’s obviously a rhetorical question. The individual with the specialty is viewed as authoritative.

When your business decides to specialize, it automatically garners a higher perception of authority in the marketplace. This can allow you to charge more, while also accepting fewer clients.

 

Better learning experience

There’s a lot that goes into running a successful business including staying up to date on new trends, best practices, and developments. If you’re in an industry where innovation happens at a swift pace – such as in medicine or IT – then you’re all-too familiar with this challenge.

By specializing, you can lighten your load by reducing the learning curve. When you’re only focused on one or two niches, you’ll find it easier to focus your time and attention. This results in better comprehension and expertise.

 

Better value proposition

When you specialize, you’re able to provide your target market with a superior value proposition over companies that generalize in a related field. You essentially become a bigger fish in a smaller pond, as opposed to the other way around.This reduces the number of companies can compete with you for that specialist work. Furthermore, you are able to offer services that are not replicated by automated tools or that justify being a permanent part of an in-house team.

 

Better networking

Finally, specialization leads to better networking opportunities. This is simply a result of the environment your business runs in. When you specialize, you’ll see an increase in word of mouth marketing. You’ll also discover that you’re interacting with people and organizations that are closely linked to your area of specialty. This means you’re more likely to strike up profitable relationships.

Start selling online

Start selling online

Selling online will make you reach markets that you would have otherwise not reached when selling physically. Your business will achieve growth because of the following;

  • Reduced order processing costs – customer orders can automatically come straight into your orders database from the website.
  • By selling online, you reach a global audience, thereby increasing sales opportunities.
  • You compete with larger businesses by being able to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Selling online allows you to reduce the number of physical offices or location. This then eliminates costs such as rent, electricity and water charges.

Do you need a business coach to help you with the planning stage?

Our friendly business consultants can help you come up with a plan for your business.