It's growth, George, but not as we know it
Posted: Mon 8th Apr 2013
In her weekly post, Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones challenges conventional wisdom on business growth and looks at how modern start-ups and small businesses are becoming more nimble, flexible and market-savvy than ever before.
On the back of the Budget, we questioned some of the moves made by the Chancellor, such as the National Insurance break,Â wondering if the government really understands how small businesses are growing, writes Emma (left).Â We suggested that many politicians and policymakers have a narrow and traditional view of business practice, which is becoming outdated as technology changes the way we trade and communicate. What we see - and profile - at Enterprise Nation is modern businesses growing through:
Knowing your niche - in the past 12 months, I've seen businesses start that are delivering a CV service for Italians moving to work in the UK, a fashion business making high-end jumpers for dogs and a website dedicated to displaying patterns and trends. These businesses have a head-start; they know exactly what they're delivering to whom, so marketing and sales fall into place and they can quickly decide on the opportunities that best suit.
Focusing on what you do best and outsourcing the rest - when time is your most precious resource, you'll want to feel confident you're making the most of it. We advise small-business owners to do this by focusing their own energy on the activity in the business which generates the greatest return - and then finding other experts to take on the tasks that don't fit into this category.
"This year, I've seen businesses start that are delivering a CV service for Italians moving to the UK, and another making high-end jumpers for dogs."
Going Global - with 1.2 billion customers online across the globe, there's a previously unparalleled opportuity for even the smallest enterprises to focus on a niche and achieve global reach. It's surprisingly easy to do so by selling via international platforms such as Etsy, Alibaba and Elance, selling products in local currencies and connecting with influential bloggers and media in new territories. The world truly can be your trading oyster!
Productising and franchising - consider this as 'boxing up' your expertise and making it available for others to buy. Whether a personal coach or children's illustrator, it's perfectly possible for small entrepreneurs to embrace technology and create ebooks, YouTube video tutorials, podcasts and kits to spread spread their expertise and open up new channels of income.
The 21st century start-up
Growing this way means you can increase turnover and profitability without an associated increase in costsÂ - ie, you don't have to take on pricey offices and recruit lots of people to grow. Instead, it's about partnering up with other experts and creating a nimble and fast-moving operation that can respond quickly to new opportunities. With record numbers of people starting a business in the UK, it's never been more important to be the expert in your field and surround yourself with others who can support you in getting product and knowledge to market at speed.
"It's never been more important to be the expert in your field and surround yourself with others who can help you get product and knowledge to market at speed."
Tech tools and support services have blossomed to enable this way of working. Why take on office space when Regus and co-working centres will do just the job? Or when you can find top talent on sites such as Elance and stay in touch and maintain morale with a team of others using tools like Basecamp, Skype and OmniJoin from Brother (in fact, Brother supported an entire series of posts on how to Be seen and heard, including using video technology to grow a business). This is how start-ups and existing businesses are growing and it's a welcome sight. If you're growing in any of the ways outlined above, I'd love to hear your story!
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Photo credits: Simon Wicks (main) and The Italian Voice (CV) via Compfight cc