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The secret to business growth successful business owners won’t tell you.

Do you want to learn how I turned $150k to $25 million in just 5 years?

Rapid business growth is possible if you have a great value proposition and a sound strategy to deliver it to the market.

In December of 1999 I partnered up with a supplier to create what was then a first of its kind fashion accessory retail outlet Ice Accessories to go up against the retail giant Kliens and Ooh La La.  2 national retail giants, well established and heavily funded and would be no push over. However I identified a weakness in their Armour and the following insights are how I turned a single store into 30 in just 5 years and turned over in excess of 25 Million dollars off a shoe string.

How did Ice Accessories grow so fast?

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Insight 1: Business growth is Nothing Without the Product

Marc Andreessen has been quoted as saying (and I’m paraphrasing here) companies fail for two main reasons—trying to grow when they shouldn’t, or being too timid when they should. Product is the foundation of growth. Without it sustainable growth is impossible.

Insight 2: Growth is Never ‘Done’

Most successful businesses have an obsessive and  relentless focus on growth, it’s part of their DNA. Te keep growing I looked for opportunities to help find using suppliers and the shopping centres themselves as sources of capital. I often took the leap of faith and opened stores when logic would tell you not to, but conducting strategic evaluations on the areas and having a good support network behind me give me the confidence to back myself. Even today I continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone to try and find the “new edge of the cliff” and over the years have learnt how to build a pretty good parachute.

Insight 3: Growth is not marketing. Marketing is not growth.

We didn’t have a traditional marketing playbook.  We didn’t use paid online or email marketing. We relied on the product for their biggest growth opportunities. Just because you have grown your business you still need to generate Buzz. But creating Buzz about your business alone does not mean your have grown unless it results in more sales and more importantly more profit.

Insight 4: Doing what everyone else is doing is the wrong strategy.

Be a unicorn, if you want to be noticed you simply cant do the same as everyone else. I looked at innovative ways to make my stores stand out and attract the right target market. I was after the 15 to 25 year old females so I designed an edgy surf shop look and feel with loud nigh club music and staff to match and guess what it worked. I knew who I wanted to attract and isolated anyone I didn’t, this allowed me to focus on delivering a great product for a narrowed customer channel.

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Insight 5: Do things that don’t scale, build things that do.

Just doing stuff does not mean you are growing your business, you may be managing but not growing, grow means entering into new markets, new suburbs, new states and actually getting traction. Like building a brick wall you need to start with solid foundations strong enough to withstand the weight of growth and when things go wrong the wall does not completely tumble down and can be supported to a degree by the other anchor points in your business.

Insight 6: There are analytics and then there are insights.

I love numbers, give me stats and I look at what they are telling me. Not just the obvious but trends and insights. You can learn a lot about data and like a gold miner you just keep looking until you find what you need to grow your business.

Insight 7: There are no silver bullets.

Growth is never left to chance. Sorry there are no easy pathways to growth, having tons of money will only exaggerate your problems and make your snowball bigger faster. Often using a bootstrapping strategy will teach you more about being hungry for growth opportunities that are sustainable than relying on constant investment or seed capital to grow. Money can fix problems but if you dont have a sustainable smaller footprint, how will you manage a bigger business without one?

Insight 8: Growth is a team sport.

I’ll mention it a few times, but growth happens when everyone knows what your plans are. I involved employees and suppliers at all levels and to no surprise those who were advocates to what I was trying to achieve supported me way beyond what I could have expected. Those that didn’t especially suppliers, well lets just say they got a small slice of the pie or missed out all together.

Insight 9: Fail often and fast.

Just as you plan for when things go wrong, also plan for when things go well. When you’re prepared for growth, you better can manage the changes it brings and let it take you to the goal you set when you started.

Insight 10: Know what growth means for you and your company.

To prepare for something, you have to know what it is and how you’ll recognize it. Growth is more than just hitting a set of numbers–it’s a package that includes changes to your company in terms of operations, production, staffing and facilities.

In addition, think about what growth means to you personally. What will your life be like when your company grows and profits increase? How hard are you going to have to work? Are you ready and willing to do what it takes?

Insight 11: Maintain relationships with your funding sources.

The faster you grow, the more cash you will need. Growth financing is every bit as hard–if not harder–to obtain than startup funding. Do regular cash-flow projections so that you know how much credit you’re going to need well before you have to start writing checks. Develop and maintain strong relationships with your funding sources ie suppliers, tell them your game plan and current scorecard and then ask for extended terms

Insight 12: Hire people based on where you want to be, not where you are.

If your goal is growth, hire people who can perform in the size company you want to be, they’ll help you get there. Put the right people in the right places. The right people doing the right jobs is absolutely critical to sustain growth.

Insight 13: Take care of your people – Love them to death.

Your employees are what keep you successful. Recognize and reward that. Working in a high-growth organization is stressful and challenging. Take note of your employees’ work and respond appropriately, or risk losing top talent. Create an environment where people are willing to work through the growing pains. In addition, take care of your suppliers, professional advisers and anyone else who can have an effect on your operation.

Insight 14: Listen to the experts – Get a Buddy

I could not have done what I did on my own, I created a network of people who were smarter than me to guide me on my journey. They took the form of suppliers, accountants and yes a business coach. I allowed them help me smooth out learning curves and keep me on my growth track, sometimes I didn’t agree with them and that’s ok, in growth no-one is right or wrong but having someone pointing out possible pitfalls that you may not see is invaluable to your growth strategy.
And finally:

Insight 15: Mind your own business

Focus on your core business and don’t get distracted. Stick to the business your company knows best. Be sure any diversification or product line expansion you do makes sense. If it has nothing to do with your core business don’t get into it just because it seems like a good opportunity. Otherwise, you’ll you confuse your customers and your employees.

Growing a business can be lonely and stressful, so if your are looking to grow you business and want the support of someone who has been there and done that, then feel free to call me on 1300 946 227 for a free no obligation initial conversation.

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