Where to start growing a business?
Change can be daunting and it's easily put off for another day. But most businesses cannot afford not to change and grow; new ideas and new income streams are essential to keep the business growing and ahead of the competition.
Perhaps your business is going nicely but you feel it could be doing better? Maybe there's pressure from shareholders; maybe there are new markets you want to address; maybe there are new customers you could be reaching? Maybe there are new products and/or services you want to sell; maybe there are new partners you could be working with to address all of above? Maybe it's all of the above.
And then there's the day-to-day running of the business to think of so there's never a moment to take stock, analyse, prioritise and decide. So where to start?
One way to make a start is to use a proven methodology to analyse your business and it's opportunities. At Madden Associates, we start with a traditional Ansoff Matrix and expand it to assess not just customers but channel partner opportunities too.
Every business is unique and each company has individual circumstances but typically, the market segment about which there is the most information is the lower left tile: existing products being sold into existing markets. It's easier to use information you already have about products and customers you are already working with than to find new information.
Optimising results from existing products and markets requires least change, least risk and least upheaval. But what next in the quest for growth and result? Using the information already obtained it is possible to identify the opportunities that are most similar to your existing markets and products. This is where you will achieve the best results with the least uncertainty and greatest probability of success.
For example, identifying which products and markets are:
- complementary; often used or purchased together.
- alternatives; often substituted for each other.
- adjacent; neighbouring each other (physically or logically).
- competitive: compete directly with each other.
- coincidental: associated in some other way (for example, sold in the same outlet)
Establishing a connection of some sort between your existing business and the new business area is a great way to incrementally approach new opportunities with the least risk and culture shock. For example, it's easier for new customers to understand your value proposition if your offer is similar to something they're already deriving value from. It's also easier for your sellers and channel partners to understand and relay the value proposition if a new product is similar to one they're already successful with.
The beauty of this incremental approach is that each step of growth opens up additional products and markets which are complementary, alternative, adjacent etc to those you have just expanded into.
As the Chinese proverb says: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". Using a tried and tested methodology helps you make the first step but also ensures that it's in the right direction and with least risk. Better still, it makes the second step easier too.
Ash Madden is Founder and Director of Madden Associates Limited, the Specialist Channel Sales & Partnering Consultancy