Five ways to grow locally

Heading overseas isn’t the only way to grow your business. Here are five ways to consider pumping up your revenue on home ground.

Whether or not you dream of conquering foreign lands, business owners can also look to domestic opportunities for growth. Here are five ways to create more revenue from local operations.

1. Team up with complementary businesses

Many people have heard of Airtasker but most don’t realise how grateful its two founders, Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui, are to the businesses that helped them realise their vision.

When Fung and Lui were starting out, several business owners took a chance on them and sent work their way. Later on, Airtasker entered into a range of mutually beneficial partnerships with the likes of CareerOne, DeliveryHero and UberX.

Fung and Lui’s experience demonstrates it’s often a more lucrative strategy to collaborate with other businesses than go to war with them. Partnering with another business can:

  • facilitate access to capital
  • provide greater exposure
  • generate cross-promotional opportunities
  • help land contracts your business couldn’t get acting individually

What businesses – including directly competing ones – could you ally with for win-win results?

2. Find new distribution partners

How much more successful could your business be if you had a network of middlemen selling your goods and services? In an age of online affiliate marketing, arranging for others to act as distribution partners can be a smart choice.

After selling their Adelaide Central Market shop, Rosalie Rotolo-Hassan’s parents went travelling. A chance conversation at a gourmet grocer in Singapore resulted in a request for premium produce. Rotolo-Hassan’s parents had retired, so they passed the request on to her. The 18-year-old university student put together an eclectic mix of the cheeses, jams and crackers her parents previously sold, and took them to Singapore.

After establishing a beachhead in Asia, the novice entrepreneur soon had distributors in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. More recently, Australian supermarket Foodland and Qantas have asked her to supply them with cheeses.

Bottega Rotolo, Rotolo-Hassan’s business, now employs up to 50 staff at any one time. Rotolo-Hassan doesn’t make cheeses; she just sources premium brands and sells them on. End result? The cheesemaker, Bottega Rotolo, the distributor and, often, a retail outlet all make money.

3. Target new market segments

Not so long ago, the ‘Australian craft-beer drinkers’ market segment didn’t exist. These days, one in 10 beers sold nationally is a craft brew. Likewise, rapidly growing market segments for an array of artisanal foods and beverages have appeared in recent times.

Business owners can constantly ask themselves how they might appeal to broad market segments. Think of groups including affluent retirees or casually employed Gen Z-ers or Gen X-ers entering their peak earning years while caring for teenage children and elderly parents.

Within those broad segments there are niche ones (e.g. ‘Time-poor, divorced 45- to 50-year-old males earning more than $100,000 requiring concierge services’ or ‘Socially progressive 25- to 30-year-old females interested in affordable, cruelty-free cosmetics’ that your business can potentially sell goods and services to.)

4. Perfect your social media marketing

Many businesses fall into the trap of using social media ineffectively. Rather than sporadically and perfunctorily updating a handful of sites, it can be best to concentrate on the one platform your customers are most enthusiastic about. Provide engaging, useful content for your audience. Make it clear what you have to offer but resist the temptation to overly self-promote. Pay attention to feedback (be it reader comments or analytical data) and give your audience more of what they want. If you can win on social media, you could convert a minor investment of time, energy and money into a significant increase in brand awareness and sales.

5. Exploit technological advances

Uber, Tinder and Instagram were all founded in the last 10 years. None could have taken off without the mass penetration of the smartphone (the first Apple iPhone was only released in mid-2007).

You may need to have Zuckerberg-level technical chops to create a business such as Facebook (which launched in 2004 and exceeded $US500 billion in value by mid-2017). Fortunately, you don’t need to come up with a technological breakthrough yourself to create a large and successful business; simply thinking up an innovative way to use an existing technology can be all that’s required to strike it rich.

Those ideas don’t even have to be entirely original. Some lateral thinking, such as ‘Why isn’t there an Airbnb for caravans?’, can be all that’s required to launch a new business or give a new lease of life to an existing one.

Have you thought about how your business could leverage apps, artificial intelligence, automation, big data, chatbots, drones, machine learning or remote-working tools?

Of course, there are many ways to grow a business. Those mentioned here have provided an impressive return on investment for countless business owners. So, before opening a branch office in New York or trying to crack the Chinese market, you may wish to consider whether you’ve picked all the low-hanging local fruit you may well be surrounded with.