5 Ways to Fast Business Growth

Business owners across the UK remain as focused as ever about achieving growth. SmallBusiness.co.uk finds out how they're doing it.

Growth is something that all businesses should aim for. Here are five straight-forward tips to help you on your way.

Sell smarter
Target your customers. Piers Carey, CEO of IT reseller company Teneo, says that the company hired a sales director and a marketing director to rethink how customers were targeted. ‘We split our market into different sectors, so we now have one sales executive covering architectural firms, and that person has become familiar with the issues facing our customers in that sector.

Expand internationally
Don’t limit your pool of customers to the UK. Nigel Brown, CEO of telecoms company Microlease, has taken the company into North America and now has his sights set on Asia. ‘We’re opening an office in Singapore, which will allow us to cover the world on a 24/7 basis, supporting Europe in the day and Asia at night. Our strategy is to deal with one market at a time. By building a good foundation in each location, we’ve been able to create revenue streams for next year. Around 98 per cent of our contracts are for longer than 12 months.

See also: Why small companies should embark on an international trade adventure

Forget the banks
If you’re serious about growth and you think your company is good enough, then you could try getting investment from business angels. There are high-net worth individuals who will invest in the company for a chunk of equity (they will be looking for a return on this investment).

Chris Tanner, founder of cloud computing specialist Brightpearl, says third-party investment was his best option for growth. ‘I launched the company in 2007. Two years later, turnover was £250,000 and now it’s increased to £350,000.’

The company secured additional financing of £1 million and since then Tanner has gone from five to 18 members of staff. ‘We did look into getting bank loans, but the banks were not prepared to lend to us as they thought we were too high-risk, and I’m not sure they really understood the concept of cloud computing.’

Trim the fat
Every CEO will have scaled back and reassessed operations during the past three years, but it’s easy for bad habits to creep back in to a business. Len Daniels, MD of manufacturing company Incorez, says: ‘In terms of cost savings, we haven’t had to make anyone redundant but we have streamlined processes in the factory.

‘For example, in our industry we use a lot of waste solvents, which cost us around £10,000 per year. People used to use them as and when they needed to and threw the rest away; now we distil what’s left for future use. We’ve also installed lighting systems in the factories that only come on when an operator enters the area, that’s saved us around £50,000 a year.’

Plan for growth
A “vision” of where the company is heading may sound slightly pie-in-the-sky, but it will unify the management team and help attract the right kind of ambitious people when recruiting. Microlease’s Brown says: ‘We’ve just completed our three-year growth plan. We did a management buy-out in 2006 and had to put together a business plan in order to get investment from a private equity firm, which took 60 per cent of the ownership and invested around £10 million. Since the MBO, our turnover has nearly doubled to £30 million.

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