So you’ve started your business through sheer grit and determination, now that it’s up and running and you feel like you can breathe again. You’ve gone from 0 to 1. Congratulations! But how do you keep your business successful as it starts to scale?
Well it really needs to start from the chrysalis of your company — when you pen down your business plan. Think there might be some aspects in the plan you missed? Don’t panic. Here are five things that your business needs to grow successfully and sustainably.
Innovation and differentiation
As soon as your company has hit on a winning product or service, you can be sure that competitors will appear to offer the same or worse — an improved version of what you’re providing. Want an example in Singapore? Bubble tea.
In this digital economy, change is the only constant and you need to inculcate a constant drive towards continual innovation in the culture of your company. This drive to expand or differentiate your business so that it remains relevant to your customers should happen on a regular basis, and not only when new competition enters the market (because that’s probably already too late).
Successful companies like Google, Facebook and Apple never rest on their laurels and are constantly looking to innovate. They continuously invest their resources into making sure that they are always working on the next big thing. This is how they can always remain at the forefront of their industries.
A strong supply chain
Not having enough sales is certainly a problem, but having to fulfil an order that’s too big to handle can just as easily hurt a growing business. Some business owners naively think they should just go out and score the biggest orders that they can get as soon as humanly possible. While this charge-in-with-guns-blazing attitude is commendable, you still need to make sure that your business is able to meet that demand within the scheduled timeframe and without compromising on quality.
If you fail to deliver on time or maintain quality, your customers will very quickly turn on you and turn to your competitors. Building up that trust with your customers again will take even more resources than finding a new customer.
Partner the right people as early as possible so that everyone can work towards long-term growth together. You need to build a strong relationship with reliable suppliers that are able to meet your expectations in terms of price, speed and quality. You also need to be a reliable client to them with timely remuneration and clear communication so that you build that mutual trust that will be essential for your journey to success.
Clear brand storytelling
In the crowded and noisy world of social media marketing, it’s becoming more and more of a struggle to engage your customer. This is why it’s now even more important for companies to have a clear and compelling brand story that stands out. The best brands don’t just blitz the market with fancy creatives or amazing deals through different marketing and sales channels, they invest in creating compelling and clear brand stories that are meaningful and resonate with their audience.
A strong brand story differentiates you from your competitors, gives those in your company a guiding light for their ideation and efforts, and can provide a powerful emotional connection with your customers.
As your business expands to attract an even wider audience, it becomes even more important that your existing and prospective customers have a clear understanding of what you and your business represent so that they can build their brand loyalty to your business.
Effective resource management
No matter how many hours a day you dedicate to your business, you simply can’t do everything on your own, especially when it starts to expand. More importantly, wearing too many hats isn’t a sustainable way to ensure a successful business. (Yes, we’re referring to all those old school Asian businessmen who just must be in charge of every decision for the company from the vendor list to the way the office desks are arranged, then complain they’re overworked.)
Instead, invest the time and resources to find the right talent who share the same values as you, and are equally motivated to make the business soar. This may take a bit more time and effort, but it ensures you won’t need to micro-manage their activities so that you can concentrate on making the business successful.
Many entrepreneurs find that they can make it through the first year or two without too much hassle in bookkeeping and accounting because of the tax exemptions on small businesses in Singapore (Nice one, ACRA). However, once they are looking to scale things up, they are going to need to be sure that their backend accounts are well organised and reconciled — at all times.
We understand how administration might be the last thing on your mind when conceptualising the expansion of your business, but the truth is, without a well organised bookkeeping system, it’s just a matter of time for a business to unravel and fail.
Fortunately, there are cloud-based software and mobile apps available to help entrepreneurs automate and keep their books in order without taking up too much effort. And the good news is that there are government grants available to SMEs that will help subsidise the costs of using and implementing such software. To see if you qualify for such grants and subsidies, check out this link.