Growing your business is a key priority for any owner, founder or CEO. If you don’t, you run the risk of missing out on opportunities which can, in turn, be snapped up by hungrier rivals, losing out on customers, revenue and key talent. Even if you don’t have world domination for your brand in mind, it’s a sad truth in business that standing still means falling behind, so you have to plan for some development and growth merely to stay in the same place!
As much as growth needs to be a fact of your life when you’re running a business, it also comes with its pitfalls. Poorly planned and budgeted growth can have a double cost to you: the resources you invest in your new brand, product or personnel are lost and won’t be repaid with an increase in revenue. Apart from the material cost, you need to consider the damage done to your brand. Failed expansion is, by necessity, failure in public: new products need publicity, new shops need launch events. If these much fanfare-d expansions fail to land with your market, you’ve just demonstrated to the watching world that you don’t know what your customers want, and that can lead them to doubt even established and much-loved products.
The way to find the balance between ambition and caution is to invest in research. Informing your plans with data and insights from market research agencies, and with advice from experienced mentors and figures like lawyers and accountants mean you can keep your plans realistic and help you to anticipate the pitfalls that could cause difficulties for you.
If you’re planning on growing your business into foreign markets – whether that’s with a physical presence or with a digital storefront – it’s well worth investing in putting together some international research: data on the demand in your new target market, the extent to which that demand is being serviced by existing brands, and what your market is on that country. If you don’t know who has the money to spend on your products, you can’t target them effectively, and even if the potential exists for you to generate lots of revenue in this market, you could fail to reach it.
Designing or adding a new product to your inventory can be similarly informed by research: you can make sure you’re designing to your customers’ (or the wider markets’) needs, so that when you launch your new product, you can be confident it will be welcomed by your customers. Testing prototypes with real customers means you have the chance to refine them, making sure their function and value is clear to customers immediately, maximising your chances of success.
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