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2013 – Business As (not) Usual?

Top Tips for GrowthThe Chancellor of the Exchequer set out the growth expectations of the Office for Budget Responsibility in his recent Autumn Statement. From a slight contraction in the current year, growth is excepted to return gradually over the next few years against a backdrop of continuing austerity.

Growth is expected to come from businesses like yours. Here is the challenge. How do we put in place the right conditions to grow?

You may think that you’ve made all the adjustments you can or need to make already. It is more than likely that, if you examine your business, there is scope for more.  Here are a few ideas for the short, medium and longer term. We hope they help.

Short Term

Conduct a quick review (don’t take too long over it) both internally and with customers that examines what you currently do. Make that review continuous.  Consider –

  • Stopping doing those things that are no longer giving customers what they want or are no longer delivering profit at the optimum level to your business. Ask “would we be doing this if we were starting the business today?”
  • With the capacity that exercise frees up, do more of the things that are working for your customers and bringing in a return on investment.
  • Examining your asset base and existing contracts and looking for ways to release additional cash into the business. Only use that cash for projects that offer a good chance of payback.
  • Check direct debits and other outgoings – are they all now necessary?
  • Credit check your own business and remove any charges that are no longer relevant. They may be hampering your ability to finance the business. Would you invest in you?

Medium Term

  • Take what you do well into new markets and sectors
  • If you already export, consider growing your export base.
  • If you don’t (yet) export, consider finding out how to get started. Look at the UKTI website and talk to your Academy Group.
  • Consider if your product or service would work in the rapidly emerging markets in the Pacific Rim and South America. Growth in Europe and the USA is likely to be slower in the medium term than in some of the rising economies.

Long Term

From the base that the short and medium term changes will generate, consider growing further by –

  • Extending your product or service into new applications, sectors and markets
  • Adding new products that extend your offer into your existing customer base. Find new suppliers or create them in house.
  • Disrupting your market by delivering better, at lower cost or with more convenience than your competitors. Real market changes involve a move to a new level of service. Take time out to consider your game changers.

Finally, some thoughts from the excellent Inside Claridges documentary on BBC at the moment. Claridges can be said to be one of the most premium of premium brands. Their room charges are in the multiple thousands per night. How do they differentiate in order to justify those charges? From the first programme, there are three ways that are immediately obvious –

  • Scrupulous attention to the smallest of details. They are aiming for a superior image and they won’t let a blemish in the paintwork on their external wall spoil that.
  • Committed and motivated staff who are bought into the Claridges experience. At all levels. At all times.
  • Research. Each customer, especially those who visit frequently are documented down to preferred room layouts, where they prefer to sit and the dressing of the room. New customers are researched through other hotels they’ve stayed in and their likely requirements anticipated.

Your business may not be Claridges but if you are charging a premium price – how do you earn it? There is nothing worse, as a customer, than to receive a commodity service for a premium price.

Finally, don’t forget to have a happy, relaxing Christmas and New Year so as to be ready for an exciting and challenging 2013, supported, of course, by your Academy Group.


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