How to Build on Your Existing Business – Jo Thornley

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Once your business becomes established you’ll be looking for steady growth. And while some businesses have the potential to continuously expand, most reach a point where further development requires a review of progress followed by a strategic plan.

So, here are some things you might want to consider for further expansion of your business.

Research the market

While your own data and customer feedback will reveal a lot about the potential opportunities in your sector, it’s also wise to keep up with what is happening elsewhere.

That means making yourself aware of any new trends and developments in your sector. In addition to looking at the sector in general, you should also explore how the profile of rival businesses compares to your own.

Are there new areas emerging where you could also compete? Or are there complementary services you might be able to provide given the new ways your market appears to be developing?

Carefully studying your competitor’s advertising campaigns is the best way to assess the effectiveness of new trends.

If adverts have recently appeared, the approach could well be speculative, but if they have been running consistently over a period of time, that suggests something is working well – and could perhaps be equally productive for you.

Identify fresh opportunities

Thoroughly analysing your own business is a proven method of uncovering fresh opportunities.

That means understanding how your demographic works, knowing the detail of your distribution channels, investigating your direct business rivals, as well as perhaps exploring international markets and looking at potential partner industries.

For instance, if you run a hotel or guest house: Do the number of foreign tourists visiting the UK seem to be rising? And if so, are there any different/extra services – perhaps even specialist requirements – they are likely to expect (and which you, or a strategic partner, could provide)?

If you then expanded your own services to accommodate this trend, how would you overcome any potential language/cultural problems?

Strategic partnerships can be a lucrative option and provide a means of expanding quickly.

However, before making any contact, you must always research your idea thoroughly. Not only must your suggestions benefit your own business, they will only attract interest if you can also present a compelling suite of advantages the move would offer your potential partner business.

In certain circumstances, mature global platforms can present another route to expansion.

For instance, if you sell products online, could you also sign up to Amazon’s FBA service? Or if you run a service-based business, could you develop your reach by using Upwork?

Consider a franchising approach

If your own business is booming and you are looking for rapid expansion, then franchising could be the answer.

To work well, you need to have a business which is easy to replicate in the hands of other operators. That essentially means devising an effective system which others will be able to follow and get the same results.

Franchising has high cost implications and usually involves legal expenses and a substantial marketing commitment. But with the right business and a strong franchise model, the results can be very impressive.

In similar vein, though involving less effort, licensing a successful product to others in return for a share of the profits can be a good way to broaden your market. And if you can license a popular product to a much larger business than your own, your growth may occur very quickly.

Acquiring an additional business

Rapid growth can sometimes be achieved by acquiring a competitor or a business in a partner industry.

This could bring reciprocal benefits such as: adding to your corporate value by increasing profits and minimising redundancies, exploiting extra distribution channels for your own products, acquiring new technologies and processing capabilities relatively cheaply, or bringing new talent on board with minimal effort.

However, acquiring an additional business does have some potential pitfalls. For instance, there can be a damaging clash of corporate cultures as well as alarm in both camps about future job security.

Borrowing funds to acquire a further business will introduce new debt to your company balance sheet and may hinder your options if you then need to seek further borrowing.

Your own growth plans may be inspired by these options, but it’s unlikely that results will flow immediately. Any worthwhile strategy will need to be pursued patiently and diligently in order to achieve the expansion you wish to secure. 


Bio: Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between, and and likeminded companies.