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Six strategies guaranteed to grow any business

Savings.png It is important to establish a distinctive and consistent brand identity

Tue, 31 Jan 2023 Source: Muniru Husseini, Contributor

Growth is an imperative for every business; and a business or portfolio whose growth is stunted for any reason becomes moribund and over time spirals down the path to extinction.

It may seem the natural thing for just about every commercial enterprise to work at achieving some growth and expansion, but the greater challenge is in extracting a ray of hope and progress from the clouds of apparent economic despair.

The businesses that do thrive in the long-term are those that are robust in their outlook and intrinsically committed to growing their portfolios despite any threats in the environment. Indeed, businesses that tremble at those threats will always appear to be on-edge, and unavoidably capitulate to those forces in the end. For the ones that survive and thrive in the long-term, they would have built such resilience and an extraordinary capacity to adapt over time by deliberately implementing the collection of strategies I discuss below.

Clearly Establish your Target Market

Your target market is that section of the population most likely to purchase your goods or services. It would be bizarre for any business to make grandiose claims of its ability to address all the range of needs customers have – even with specialised products and/or services. It is best to identify a group of customers whose needs align well with your core competence, and those which are sizeable enough to warrant the investment of your resources.

This involves segregating various customer segments according to their demographics (age, education, income, gender etc.), interests and unique pain points; and then carefully choosing the segment you are adequately capable of serving. Any attempt at offering solutions to a multiplicity of customer needs spreads your resources thinly, making you ineffective and inefficient at delivering creditably on any of those needs.

Create a powerful brand

It is important to establish a distinctive and consistent brand identity that distinguishes your business from the competition. A powerful brand is one that is built on a foundation set for enduring virtues and qualities that project the business in a radiant and endearing manner. A good brand is a function of time and consistencym and comprises a carefully crafted vision, mission and core values. A good vision must inspire action, challenge and motivate leaders and their teams, and ensure the business is carefully steered in the right direction. The brand’s mission is a statement that drives purpose.

These are often short, catchy and action-oriented, and they capture the full essence of what your business does every day toward the fulfilment of its brand purpose. Brand values are a core set of enduring principles which guide every facet of the business. They are the brand’s fundamental virtues and they form the essence of its theme, ultimately becoming like a belief-system that has been deeply ingrained in your personnel. Businesses often choose brand values that exude nobility and embody the deep and inherent attributes their target audiences value most.

Leverage Technology

While the need to do so may seem obvious, very few small businesses have effectively harnessed the power of technology and the Internet to advance their companies. Some who are supposedly technophobic, or have an obstinate disposition toward technology, would rather pursue the arduous path of performing routine tasks that could be better executed with the aid of some technology. In today’s corporate environment, businesses that survive and thrive are keenly aware of the benefits from utilising technology to automate and streamline procedures, boost productivity and enhance customer communication.

It is estimated that over 60% of all Internet users are on social media – and more than 90% of consumers with Internet access use search-engines to find businesses and products or services. Your absence from the Internet excludes your business from a ballooning loop of consumers who can mostly only be found online. There are free versions of tools like Buffer, Canva and Copy. AI and all these help businesses efficiently and effectively expand their reach via the Internet, and bring beneficial and impactful awareness to what they do. Buffer is a great social media management tool that allows you to schedule posts, monitor social media analytics and timeously engage with your customers online.

Canva helps you create basic graphics and Copy. AI has a wide array of templates which ease your composition of persuasive sales copy and e-mails that drive action. In addition to traditional above the line advertising, technology like Mailchimp facilitates your implementation of direct mail campaigns – helping you reach and manage communication with thousands of your customers in one click. Further, targetted search-engine marketing boosts your online profile and ultimately projects your business as one of the best in its category.

These offer a healthy and complementary mix of online and offline strategies, and bring you greater returns on your investments (ROI) in marketing. Again, the use of software like Xero, Quickbooks, Self-Employed and FreshBooks can help with efficient book-keeping and enable you to properly account for every cedi or dollar in your business. Cash absolutely remains king!

Diversify your offerings

It is great to have a niche and also be the pre-eminent choice in a particular aspect of your trade; but it is also critically important to carefully expand the range of your product or service offerings to attract a broad array of customers and increase revenue.

It bolsters your market stamina and minimises the impact of any shocks to the sector you are particularly noted for. You effectively avoid putting all your eggs in the proverbial “one basket” while building a bulwark against any adversarial forces to your business.

A good way to go about this is to strategically align with other businesses or create a related business that operates independently. Apple Inc., for example, owns or has acquired ownership stakes in NeXT Software, Siri Inc., AuthenTec, Beats Electronics and Shazam. Microsoft Inc. has also made more than a dozen acquisitions over the years – including LinkedIn, Skype Technologies S.A.R.L., GitHub, Mojang, aQuantive, ZeniMax Media, Nuance etc.; effectively diversifying its business portfolio and giving them a more formidable presence in the tech industry.

Make continuous improvements in your product or service

Companies must remain attuned to customer feedback and consistently make changes in tandem with market and industry trends. Economies, markets and consumer needs evolve, and any business that desires to last must evolve with these trends.

A business that does not evolve will over time become stale, lack-lustre and eventually succumb to the threats of competitive market conditions. Blockbuster LLC, which was America’s largest provider of home video and video game rental services, ceased operations in 2014 because it failed to acknowledge and seize the opportunities offered by the digital age and position itself as such.

Curiously, they also failed to acquire Netflix – which is now worth more than US$100billion, when it was offered to them for just US$50million in the year 2000. Similarly, Nokia – which was market leader in the mobile telephony industry during the 90s – lost its position because it failed to embrace the emerging android technology and properly adapt to the needs of a rapidly changing market.

Network and collaborate

It is inconceivable that any business would be able to grow without actively and collaboratively engaging with the entirety of its stakeholders. It is important to participate in industry events and network with other business owners, partners and potential customers.

Deliberately seek partnerships with other businesses and organisations, in such a manner that enables you to expand your reach and gain access to new resources and audiences. Small businesses may synergise and take advantage of business opportunities they otherwise lacked the capacity to handle.

Banks and insurance companies can reach hitherto out-of-reach areas and communities through commissioned agents. And e-commerce business can leverage online marketplaces or use influencers to promote their products and services in mutually beneficial ways.

Our current economic milieu may portend an inauspicious future for many businesses in general, but by implementing these strategies you can help ameliorate or prevent a reversal of any of your business fortunes.

The journey of any business can be stressful and excruciatingly challenging, but by maintaining your focus, consistency and optimism you significantly increase the odds of your business surviving and thriving – even in bad and uncertain economic times.

Source: Muniru Husseini, Contributor
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