There are four simple options to consider when looking to strategically grow your business. Note the word strategic: This is not about just working harder or making more things in hopes of growing your business, it’s about developing a plan that makes sense for how to grow your business for the long term.
Before we get too far into setting some goals, let’s start with a solid understanding of the basis on which the business has been built. Every successful business has created something that sparked the interest of its customers. You wouldn’t be where you are today if you weren’t doing a couple things right, right?
So what created that spark? What do your customers like about your products or services? Why do they work with you? What is your special sauce? Understanding what you’re good at is not only about understanding what your staff does well, but also customers’ perceptions of what you do well.
Once grounded in what you’re doing right, a business development strategy builds on that foundation. Growth comes from selling more to your existing customers as well as selling to new customers.
Here are four possible business development strategies that support these options. Use your experiences to date and your understanding of your position in the market to decide what options are best for your company.
Create add-on sales: The least expensive way to increase sales is to sell more to existing customers. This is why every retail establishment has a tempting selection of small items at the cash wrap: If a client is in the store and has their wallet out to buy something, then why not ask them to pick up just this little bit more?
Add-on sales aren’t just a good strategy for retail. The concept works in all sectors. The underlying premise here is you have a solid understanding of the market and can increase the amount of business you do with existing customers by interacting with them more frequently, adding product features, increasing product selection or expanding service options.
Increase exposure: If you want more customers and feel you still have plenty of room to grow in your existing market, it could be about exposure.
Is it a common experience that you run into potential customers you want to work with who don’t know your company exists? Is everybody at your firm busy, nose to the grindstone, doing their job and delivering work, but maybe no one is getting the word out to new customers?
If your answer is yes, maybe your business development strategy is simply to put more time, energy and money into marketing. This strategy might include tactics like optimizing your website, creating new promotional materials or running an advertising campaign.
Test new waters: Expansion into new markets is often a logical next step in business growth. This means taking what you know you’re good at and trying to find a new pool of customers that are similar to the ones you have now, but in a new area or sector.
Figuring out where these customers are is the key to success. This means doing some thorough and professional market research to understand economic trends in the new market, the size and health of your potential new customers and the strength of your new competitors. You want to know as much about the new market as you can before you dive in.
Explore new territory: Economies go up and down and technology changes behaviors, so who knows what is coming your way? Knowing that change is a certainty means it’s wise for businesses to diversify whenever they can. A strong, stable company doesn’t rely on any one group of customers for more than 20 percent of its business. The same holds true for reliance on any one product.
A strategic diversification strategy is sometimes needed. This means moving forward with an idea that’s different from the current business to push the company in new directions. This kind of strategy must be implemented carefully, with planning put into how to provide the people, time and money needed to properly test new offerings without harming core business. If done carefully, though, exploring new ideas can open up exciting growth opportunities for the company.