As an agency, we have had the privilege of working with such a wonderful mix of businesses, all at different stages in their growth. From ambitious and driven one-man start-ups, through to established businesses with boards and investors who are looking to transform their digital presence.
As a digital partner, we have seen many businesses thrive and flourish, but also some that stagnate and regress. Of all our clients who have experienced fast growth, we believe many have the same traits, including:
- Ambition – an unrelenting drive to grow.
- Offering – a product or service offering based on value, not cost.
- Calculated investment – bold investment in marketing, systems, and staff.
Competing on price is a race to the bottom
Many have heard this phrase before, but it’s often met with objection in newer businesses. ‘If they can get it somewhere else cheaper, why would they come to me?’.
Big discount stores and organisations that position themselves as ‘cheap’ often have so much resource, scale and power, that they can afford very small profit margins by selling in volume. However, start-ups will not have the same capabilities and smaller profit margins make it difficult to invest in web, marketing, staff and systems.
Successful start-ups often operate at mid-range to premium pricing structures. Their advantage over larger organisations is the ability to provide outstanding service such as prompt delivery, unquestioned returns and brilliant customer service.
As for service providers, these can offer accurate timelines and a premium level of service due to specialist knowledge or experience.
When setting pricing you need to consider estimated turnover, how many jobs or sales are required to hit that turnover, the feasibility of serving that many jobs in a single year, your expected running costs and profits. If you are set on global domination, you also need enough profit margin to hire staff at each stage of growth.
You can’t do it all forever (and you shouldn’t try !)
Running a business is demanding and you can easily fill your day with operational or sales tasks. In the early stages of business growth, it’s essential to work extra hours and fill a dozen roles, but it’s important to know when to get help, or you could easily stagnate or become overwhelmed. Even well-established businesses can fall into the trap of paying high level staff to manage low skill jobs, or to manage areas they have no experience in. No matter your scale, it’s always important to reflect, focus your efforts and your staff’s time on what they should be doing.
Knowing the right time to staff up, create new roles and outsource work to agencies is a talent that is common amongst our fasted growing clients. Some may see it as risk, but for fast growth businesses, it’s calculated. They would rather take a short term hit on profit to secure steady growth and long-term success.
Many of the businesses we work with have internal teams for marketing and some even have in-house designers and web developers. For some industries, these are essential to their service offering – it could be to manage and maintain their own software, maintain an existing website or to manage a weekly email marketing campaign. Even though they have highly skilled teams internally that could potentially rebuild their website, design a new brand, or fulfil specialist areas of marketing, they still choose to work with us.
They see their brand, website and marketing as key to their future success. Having an outsourced agency partner gives them specialist insight and services. They trust their agency to provide premium solutions based on skill and experience. A common mistake is to try and build a new website in-house, which can lead to a ‘designed by committee’ approach – where no one involved, no matter how senior, has the specific experience required to steer a successful outcome.
Automation and integration can unlock further growth potential
You often do whatever it takes in the first years of business. Whether it’s managing your own accounts or relying on pen and paper for packing orders. Clients who have invested in integrations or automations often experience a rapid burst of growth. The reason for this is simple – it can remove the risk of human error and teams now have more time to focus on other important areas.
Many of our most successful clients reflect on their growth, sales and operations frequently. They may create a roadmap for their business, identifying areas for improvement and constantly work towards milestones that will trigger their next investment.
What is most important to business growth
First and foremost, your offering needs to be right. Finding the right balance between cost and quality presents value. Other factors such as a premium service can attract clients, even if they can get the same cheaper elsewhere. Competing on cost alone is not impossible, but it’s certainly more challenging and less rewarding than other business models.
Make sure you always have one eye on your team. They should be doing what they need to do and not everything they can do. Instead – outsource specialist areas such as accounting, IT, web and marketing (unless you want to hire, train and keep staff in each of these areas).
Finally, you should always be on the lookout for ways to streamline your operations and seek new marketing opportunities. A new website, ongoing marketing or a new integration could see your business reach new heights.