If you’re a small business, operating in a dynamic marketplace, then planning where you will be in five or even three years’ time can be complicated. Organisations and the economic environments within which you operate can take unexpected turns. While the journey can be a confusing one, the key to success lies in knowing and understanding the size of the market and its demand for your product or service. But how do you ensure your company is ready to grow from a small to a medium-sized business? Eliminate the growing pains and maximise your chances of getting it right with these tips.
There’s a whole mass of metrics that you can draw on to help judge whether you are ready to grow from a small to a medium-sized business – profit and loss, are obviously, clear indicators of success. Revenue growth is a crucial factor, as it will help highlight how your existing approach is leading to the right results, in terms of both customer numbers and client satisfaction levels.
You will only know that your success is likely to continue if you assess every factor on a recurrent basis. Keeping customers, partners and employees happy requires a process of constant engagement. Make sure you have the tools to help your business execute on its plans, reduce costs, and increase efficiency and visibility.
Looking back can help, too. You can create a measure of success by looking over your shoulder and considering where the firm was six months ago, where it is now and where you would like to be in six months’ time.
As your business continues to grow, stick to your strategy and pay close attention to forecasting and risks. Your business will lose customers and, potentially, some big-ticket clients. The key is being able to absorb this loss and maintain cash flow.
Remember that three or five big client wins is probably all it would take to transform your operations completely and enable you to grow from a small to a medium-sized business. Such successes would also change your forward-looking plan. This kind of fluctuation means that micro-scale planning, with an element of agility and flexibility, is crucial for small firms looking to scale.
Prioritising customer success stories
The way that growing businesses operate is changing, particularly in the digital age. Traditional organisations are more likely to focus on sales with the finance director firmly fixed on numbers. While renewals are important, it is possible that they will only account for around a quarter of revenue from contracts in a traditional business.
In modern, SaaS-based organisations, the contracting model involves shorter terms and faster renewals. The split between sales and renewals in these businesses is much more likely to be a fifty-fifty split. In fact, renewals could account for as much as 80 or 90 percent of revenue in firms with a monthly subscription model.
In these circumstances, knowing what makes people more likely to renew is key. Your customer success story must begin at the start of the sales cycle – particularly as a small business, but also as your firm grows larger. A failure to focus on success will create high churn rates and unhappy customers that you will struggle to turn back onside.
When attempting to grow from a small to a medium-sized business, it is important not just to analyse what factors help close a deal. Instead, experts suggest you focus on the areas that will make your client successful, and track and trace delivery across the contract lifecycle. If your client is successful working with your business, then their continued custom is much more likely to be assured.
So, keep a sharp eye on the potential for success. Avoid clients that will be tough to onboard and which stray beyond the confines of your already tightly-defined delivery model. Outliers throw you off course, so listen to customer demands and think carefully about how your organisation will help clients be more successful now and in the future.
When do you stop being niche?
Cash flow, for any entrepreneurial executive, is king – so always ensure you establish an effective balance between an over-reliance on two or three major customers and the creation of an overly-wide client base that is resource-intensive to serve, both regarding cash and time.
When times are tough, it can be tempting to take a tangent and look for new business in a completely fresh area. However, trying something different can be expensive and take your attention away from the elements that helped your organisation grow in the first place. Before you diversify in order to grow from a small to a medium-sized business, return to your core proposition and hone your approach.
Looking to new areas can be a smart way to grow a business, but your initial idea – the niche that has allowed your organisation to grow – should be a productive seem. Businesses are more likely to grow successfully when they find new ways of exploiting their existing niche.
So, that might involve a move into new markets, both in terms of industries or geographies. Looking to expand through your existing way of working will be far easier, and more likely to succeed, than going off and attempting to create a new product or service.
This is not by any means an extensive list of all that it takes to grow from a small to a medium-sized business. Most markets are riddled with uncertainty and risk which is why so many fail to make it. Nevertheless, the elements set out above will allow you to build a solid foundation from which to develop a sustainable growth strategy that will maximise your chances of long-standing success.
Artificial Intelligence and sales are uniting to rapidly change the way we do business, but keeping on top of the latest technology and discerning which solutions can help your business is challenging.
Join like-minded sales professionals and leading vendors in the sales performance sector to uncover how the latest advancements can help improve sales team efficiency.
DATE AND TIME
Wednesday 1st November 2017 from 18:00 until 20:30 GMT
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe (UK) LLP
“This will be a valuable event for anyone looking to meet fellow sales professionals while learning the ways to apply the latest AI technology to drive smarter sales operations.”
– Stephen Mooney, CEO of Synoptica
18:00-18:20 Sales Team Performance– James Bryce, CEO Gweek. Learn how AI can make your sales team and their messaging more impactful.
18:20-18:40 Automating Lead Research on the Web -Dr. Bogdan Vrusias, CTO/Co-Founder, Synoptica. How can AI take the legwork out of researching leads and predicting the best customers.
18:40-19:00 Identifying Buying Signals– Martin Moran, MD, InsideSales. How can Big Data and Artificial Intelligence identify the right times to get involved in the sales cycle.
19:00-19:15 Panel – The Future of AI and Sales.
19:15-20:30 Networking and Refreshments (Beer & Wine)
Artificial Intelligence and sales are uniting to rapidly change the way we do business but keeping on top of the latest technology and discerning which solutions can help your business is challenging.
Join like-minded sales professionals and leading vendors in the sales performance sector to uncover how the latest advancements can help improve sales team efficiency.
Synoptica was formed in 2015 through the merger of iVeridis and Technotomy to revolutionise artificial intelligence and sales. The two founders, Stephen and Bogdan, recognised the clear opportunity to leverage their combined experience of sales leadership and artificial intelligence to improve the way sales teams profiled and managed prospects. By capitalising on early research and customer traction and with the support of an InnovateUK SMART grant, the company was able to rapidly deliver a technology platform that was scalable and fit for market.
In early 2017, upon completion of the research grant, Synoptica began rapidly commercialising the application and scaling the operations through the backing of one of the company’s early customers. Through the launch of their web application in June 2017 they’ve seen a rapid uptake of our subscription base. The company is targeting further investment in 2018 with the aim to tackle new markets and implement additional platform options.
Synoptica helps sales professionals find the right customers for their business. Using advanced technologies in Natural Language Processing the platform identifies buying signals at the top of your sales funnel- exposing the best leads and eliminating the rest. Prospects ranked by Synoptica are 25%-50% more likely to close than unranked leads.
Growth is an important element of long-term success, particularly in the tech industry. To survive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, it is not enough to just retain most of your existing customers. You need to leverage the possibilities of new markets as well – and that means scaling internationally. However, premature expansion can have disastrous consequences. Before you make the move, you need to assess the potential opportunities and risks in the new market to ensure the success of your expansion.
Assessing Opportunities: Asking the Right Questions
Companies that fail to ask the right questions before expanding into a new market will invariably face challenges that can slow or outright impede their growth efforts. If your company fails to do its homework, your growth strategy will be doomed before you even begin to execute it. To avoid this outcome, software firms must consider several vital factors before committing to any expansion efforts. The following questions will help you assess the opportunities and size of the market you’re attempting to enter and ultimately determine whether you should take the next step in your development plans.
Who are my target clients?
First of all, you need to be able to identify your target audience. Who are those ideal customers? The answer to this critical question can help you to define the availability of the market and allow you to focus your sales and marketing efforts in the right areas. The best place to start is by analysing your current customer base. What traits do they share? Which clients provide the most revenue for your company? Who are the decision makers?
By examining your existing customers, you can get the insights you need to develop a customer profile that can help you narrow down your client focus for any new market. Your company is most likely to succeed when it targets an audience that shares the same needs and interests as your current clientele.
How big is the market?
Naturally, it is not enough to just identify the type of client who might be willing to purchase your product. To appropriately assess the potential for revenue in the chosen market, you also need to determine how many of those ideal customers exist. There must be a large enough net of prospects for you to target for your offering to be viable. This particular question is not straightforward to answer and requires market research. Look for primary and secondary resources that can provide you with the information you need, such as Google Trends and other sites.
What are potential clients in that market currently using?
Once you’ve identified a pool of likely customers, you then need to know whether your product will be right for them for it to be a success. To do so, you will need to know more about the types of software that your target market currently uses. What does their software stack consist off? What is it lacking? Research those customers’ needs and find out how the programmes they are using meet their demands.
You can then evaluate that information against your own products’ capabilities. Can your software provide benefits that these customers are not currently receiving? How is your solution better than the products that they are using? Are you addressing a gap in the market? The answers to these questions are vital in determining whether there’s a viable market for your offerings.
Who Are My Competitors in that Market?
Lastly, take note of your competition. Unless you have a revolutionary product that has no peers, the chances are that there will be competitors in your target market who are already offering a similar product to your potential clients. Learn everything that you can about those competitors so that you can assess your opportunity for success. Research their products, business practices, service history and if possible reviews, to identify their strengths and weaknesses. You also need to consider the following:
- How does their pricing strategy compare to yours? This information will provide insight about your potential competitiveness and can give you some valuable clues about their customers’ spending, and what they’re willing to pay.
- How are they positioned within the market? What is their market share?
- What are their customers saying? Are there areas in which they are failing to address customers’ real needs? Examine reviews to identify potential areas of opportunity or challenges they may be facing. A general level of dissatisfaction, or a sense that current offerings are mediocre, can serve as a clear indication that your competitors may not be as entrenched in the market as it might otherwise seem.
Learning this information about your competitors can help you determine whether you can reasonably compete in the desired market. You may also glean insight that allows you to narrow down your target audience or provides inspiration for new or modified product offerings. This will all enable you to properly tailor your offerings and message or ultimately provide the early warning you need to delay or cancel your planned entry into that new marketplace.
The bottom line is clear: to give your company the best chance of succeeding internationally; first, you need to analyse the size and value of your new market. Carry out the necessary research, either yourself or through a specialised agency. Use the information to examine how critical factors might impact your odds of achieving a successful expansion. Your analysis will reveal the market as a viable opportunity, or it may expose challenges that need to be addressed before moving forward with your plans. In some instances, you may just discover that your offering is simply not a good fit for that given market. The important thing is that you find out before you commit to your expansion.
If you operate a company that is looking to take advantage of expansion opportunities in the United Kingdom, you no doubt recognise that your firm will face many challenges as it works to establish itself in a new and foreign market. You may be faced with everything from cultural differences to unfamiliar laws and regulations to marketing concerns. To successfully achieve your expansion goals, you will need to be able to address each of these challenges in an effective and timely manner. Fortunately, there is a whole host of resources for expansion in the UK available to help your company get its footing in the country.
Government Resources for Expansion in the UK
The UK government offers many support services for companies that are looking to expand in the country. With London known as the digital capital of Europe, the UK recognises the importance of encouraging foreign companies to invest and grow here – especially in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. As such, the government has composed a number of resources to facilitate the process and provide as much information as possible. Below are a few of the many government resources for expansion in the UK that your company can use to ease its entry into this important market.
The government’s primary website is a must-read resource for any foreign company seeking to expand into the UK. On it, you will find critical information about business legislation, funding requirements, tax issues and other vital concerns that your company needs to know and address if you want your market entry to be successful.
While not exclusively a government-run support service, Tech.London does have the support of London’s local government. It was created through a partnership involving IBM, Gust and the Mayor of London, and provides vital resources for businesses in the tech sector. You can gain valuable insight and assistance from the website’s job boards, events schedule and other news and information helpful to new businesses looking to set up operations in London.
Department for International Trade
The Department for International Trade is another government agency that can help your company enjoy a smoother entry transaction. The role of the DIT is to assist local businesses to expand overseas while helping external companies expand their operations into the UK. The department is responsible for providing critical expertise to those firms and maintains a vast network of contacts and specialists who can facilitate growth in the UK.
International Business Programme
The Mayor’s International Business Programme is the brainchild of former Mayor of London Boris Johnson. The project was launched to assist high-growth London firms in their efforts to expand into overseas markets, with the goal of creating more and better jobs for the city’s citizens. For foreign companies that are looking to establish roots in the UK, the program offers a wide range of support services and focuses on promoting the UK, not just London, as the ideal location for start-ups.
Private Sector Resources for Expansion in the UK
The government is not the only source for assistance. There are various private sector organisations that also offer critical support services, advice and assistance to overseas companies that want to invest in the UK. Many of these services are focused on specific industries, ensuring that your business can receive assistance from experts who possess the competence and experience you need for success.
The UK has been increasingly active in promoting and encouraging tech firms to adopt the country as their home. The UK has since become a leading centre for innovation and a preferred destination for many enterprising tech startups. Tech City is an organisation devoted to helping those tech firms to grow and achieve their goals.
Tech City provides programmes, events and research designed to facilitate growth in the UK’s important tech sector. It works to attract the best tech professionals from around the world and focuses on ensuring that those individuals have access to the skills needed to succeed in the industry. The organisation also concentrates on the challenges facing the industry, working with partner companies and other critical concerns that would otherwise threaten the industry’s growth and success.
London & Partners
London & Partners describes itself as the “Mayor of London’s official promotional agency” and has the hefty goal of promoting the capital city as a premier location for investment, employment, tourism and educational opportunities. Part of the mission involves efforts to attract trade from overseas, encouraging companies to establish a presence in London. The group works in collaboration with the Department for International Trade and has partnerships with the City of London and the Mayor’s office; as well as a host of business partners and other organisations.
London & Partners offers programmes and assistance to companies seeking to expand in the capital. It also works in partnership with the Mayor’s office to encourage overseas companies to invest in so-called regeneration and development projects across London.
The Sirius Programme
The Sirius Programme offers a support package designed to assist overseas entrepreneurs who have business ideas that they want to bring to the UK. It is a joint public-private-charitable endeavour that brings together private sector businesses, charities and the Department for International Trade. It’s a 12-month programme that offers help with visas, training, mentoring and even seed funding and office space.
It’s always difficult to expand into new markets, but that difficulty can be magnified when trying to establish roots in a different country. The British government and private sector recognise those challenges and have responded with a concerted effort to make overseas investment as simple as possible. These resources for expansion in the UK can provide the guidance, direct assistance and ongoing support that your company will need to avoid any pitfalls that might otherwise threaten your expansion efforts. Before you finalise your expansion plans, take the time to find out about the specific resources that might simplify your entry into the UK market.
If your business has grown to the stage where you’re considering expansion, then that’s a great sign of success. After all, businesses that grow and expand their operations tend to be amongst those that give themselves the best chance of long-term, sustainable success. When your growth plans include entry into a new and foreign market, however, you need to be sure that you have the right strategy in place to succeed. We list the top three approaches for managing global expansion that will facilitate entry and ensure your success.