You may not be in the big leagues yet, sporting Fortune 500 status and a private jet, but that does not mean you can't grow like you are. The principal behind business growth is universal. It does not discriminate against size at all. In fact, its modus operandi resembles something more along the lines of “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
The truth is, you can grow like a big corporation. They are no different that you. Most of the time, we fail to experience growth for two primary reasons. First, is our fear of failure. Many chances for growth pass by because we are afraid to take them. And hey, let's be honest -- sometimes it happens. It did for e-gifting company Boomerang founder, Zach Smith. Yet, rather than take failure as a final event, he rerouted and rebooted the company to success.
The second reason growth eludes us? We lack the infrastructure. This is all too common. It happened to Pets.com. You have to be a sapling before you are an oak. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz understood this. Though his vision was a global billion-dollar industry, they began by selling a variety of simple coffee blends with a focus on customer service.
Paying attention to these two points, we can unpack a few strategies major corporations use for growth. Though they may be larger, it is still possible to emulate their model and achieve similar results. These business growth principles apply to all sorts of fields, from coffee shops to medical practices.
1. Leverage partnerships.
Before you zone out, thinking you are in no position to entertain a partnership, expand the semantic range of the word. I'm not talking about fronting the capital to establish a partnership. No, this is much more creative than that. Offer a strategic partnership.
For instance, maybe you have a great product, but you have supply or distribution issues. Why not partner with a manufacturer and offer them a percentage of each sale? It's a hustle for sure, but not unusual in the least. It is the best way to leverage a partnership when you are a small business. It allows you to focus on selling your products, so you can level up in the future.
2. Maintain customer focus.
This is how giants like Starbucks, Apple and Old Navy grew into the megalithic corporations they are today. Focusing on the customer should always be front and center, for without them, there would be no business. Consumers are people, and to grow any business, you need to cater to individuals.
Specifically, according to Bob Mangat, CEO of Invigomedia, "Some products or services take a while to deliver, but feeling cared for lifts the spirits immediately. For consumers, this is priceless." Why are doctors with full practices so successful? Customer focus via customer service.
It's amazing what a shift in customer focus will do. Now, we do not go to the doctor to be told we are sick. We go because we want someone to care. Our needs changed and the marketplace adapted. The lesson here is make sure you continually focus on your customer so you can maintain focus when a shift occurs. That will contribute to steady, consistent growth.
3. Push for penetration.
Notice what large companies do. They are never content to remain small. Take Finland-based game app developer Rovio. You might know them by another name, Angry Birds. They are worth a look.
In 2009, they hit the market with Angry Birds. You could download it for $0.99. By 2010, they were the number-one downloaded game. In 2011, a round of venture capital fundraising found them holding 42 million dollars. They also launched a physical products store in Helsinki and expanded the product line globally. More than half of their total revenue is expected to come through physical products.
Here is the really interesting part though. In 2011, they also had more than 200 million monthly users. It has now been downloaded just over 1.7 billion times. That is close to one-third of the planet's population.
4. Implementing all three tips
Look closely though, and you will see something unique about the Angry Birds story. They first started with a game, then diversified. The diversification brought product and brand awareness, which in turn led to more growth. Market penetration for Angry Birds reached a tipping point when they began selling physical products. It still worked, because they were delivering value with their physical products.
It is a powerful story. It is inspiring. Notice they used all of the three strategies mentioned above. They leveraged a partnership, maintained customer focus and went full throttle for market penetration. Can you grow like a large corporation? Sure you can. Angry Birds started growing $0.99 at a time -- until they struck gold.