Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Here are some ways to ensure your business thinks outside the box and prepares for growth.

Traditional business growth strategies focus on getting more customers, or at least getting your current customers to buy more from you. But that’s not always profitable or sustainable growth. Rapid increases in demand require rapid increases in resources – time, people and money.

As Gelatissimo’s CEO once told us, “It is easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal: making a quid and getting an acceptable return on investment. In the early years, we were expanding so quickly that the investment mounted… we took a huge hit.”

However, profitable growth doesn't have to mean slow growth. It just takes a few breakout ideas and some creative thinking, and you can take the lead. Here are five out-of-the-box growth ideas to consider.

cartoon lightbulb brain box

1. Turn services into products

Whether you’re an architect or web designer, when you sell services you’re constrained by the number of hours in a day. But is it possible to also make revenue while you sleep? 

Perhaps there’s an untapped market for an online course in your area of expertise. Or you may be able to turn your technology into an off-the-shelf subscription-based software (SaaS or software as service). Or, create an online directory that taps into your own network, and get paid per conversion rather than a one-off ad. 

Consider the flipside too – follow up a one-off product sale with ongoing services, such as garden maintenance to keep a new landscape design looking fresh.

2. Find profitable partnerships

Sometimes it pays to team up with your competitors. That’s what hotels do when they create a destination campaign. Or consider an alliance with an adjacent industry – accountants could team up with financial advisers, hotels with event producers, hairdressers with day spas. For example, home improvements directory hipages.com.au has just partnered with Ikea to make it a whole lot easier to get your flat-pack kitchen installed.

3. Hack your own growth

‘Growth hacking’ is the latest trend start-ups are embracing to go viral and grow exponentially online by using simple, low-cost digital tools and social media. For example, camera producer GoPro challenged its fans to post their extreme sports videos on YouTube – generating hundreds of millions of views and giving them instant credibility with next to no marketing cost.

4. Get ready to franchise

Franchising is not always easy, and it’s not for everyone. But if you can launch 100 shops in 100 days, as 2013’s top Australian franchisor Specsavers did , it certainly creates growth. If you have good systems and support in place, strong leadership and credibility, and provide attractive lifestyle (and profitability) benefits to would-be entrepreneurs, you may have a potentially successful model on your hands.

5. Growth across borders

Thirty-four per cent of Australian SMEs already trade with China, and Australia has free trade agreements with Singapore and other South East Asian nations. If you’d like to go global, think first about whether that country has a demand for your product or service. 

For example, winemakers and baby goods manufacturers are likely to do well in China, and there are also opportunities for fresh food, pharmaceuticals, and even services such as accounting and insurance.

New report reveals small businesses lagging behind customers in tech
Trends
New report reveals small businesses lagging behind customers in tech

According to the 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report, customers increasingly use technology to find products and research businesses. Yet many small businesses are ...

5 simple ways to earn your customers' loyalty online
Tech Solutions
Tech Solutions
5 simple ways to earn your customers' loyalty online

Do you know what experience your customers want online to keep them loyal? Keep them coming back with these 5 simple, effective strategies. Today’s customers have a lot of choi...

Woman swiping card
Customer Experience
Customer Experience
5 easy secrets to customer loyalty

When small businesses want to boost customer loyalty, they often focus on dis-counts and special offers. However, there are many more ways you can make customers feel all that ...

Man sitting down using tablet
Customer Experience
Customer Experience
Tech: the new customer charmer

While many businesses look at technology as a way to make them more productive, others see it as an opportunity to delight customers. Adding a little tech to your business coul...