International managing director at BullhornView Author Profile
Why the world's best businesses are relentless in their pursuit of the next big opportunity.
The best business leaders are restless. While never reckless, incautious, or untrue to their companies’ principles, they’re in constant search for new opportunities to pursue and avenues to explore.
Staying still can be comforting, but that comfort can easily turn to stagnation. If you’re an entrepreneur or a business leader, you owe it to yourself and your company to seek and conquer new challenges.
Expanding to fuel growth should be a major consideration for any business, but the process of getting bigger and better is rarely seamless. If you feel it’s the right move, however, it’s always worth pursuing.
Most importantly, whether you’re just formulating your expansion plans, or putting them into action, you need to be bold, unapologetic, and relentlessly forward-thinking.
Decision-making and dialogue
Good leadership is about taking decisive action. As the boss, you have a responsibility to your stakeholders, but even when it feels like your hands are tied, you are not answerable to them.
The final verdict is always yours, and if, after weighing all evidence, all alternatives, and any conflicting opinions, you’ve decided to take the company in a certain direction, do it – and do it without remorse or equivocation.
If you decide to take a certain course of action, do your utmost get your employees, your investors, and your customers on-side. Alienating the people who matter most to your company profits nobody.
When you’re expanding your business, some people are naturally going to disagree: uncharted territory will always provoke fear and uncertainty in some, and not without reason.
If you need to get stakeholders onside, do it through conversation rather than edict. Patiently and passionately explain your vision for the future of the company, make them understand why you’re taking it in this new direction, and emphasise how important it is that they’re on board.
New territory, new challenges
While you shouldn’t stay still, you should always endeavour to move with a sense of purpose and direction. There is no use in trying to address markets and audiences that won’t be receptive to your company’s overtures, and there may be more reasons for their reluctance than you might think.
Maybe the market is simply oversaturated: if a specific region or niche already has what you’re offering, they are likely not looking for another version of it.
Maybe the market simply isn’t ready for it: the SEGA Dreamcast, for example, sold poorly and had negligible market penetration worldwide, but has since been acknowledged as a major influence on later generations of video game console.
The only way to avoid launching at the wrong moment or in the wrong area is to conduct thorough market research. Make sure your products and services are targeted at willing audiences – and then develop a bespoke challenger statement for each of them.
This statement should not only highlight your USPs, but your USPs for this specific market or industry. It can vary more wildly than you might think. Why should these people, in this region, care about you? Your challenger statement should answer this question.
Better, faster, stronger
Expanding to fuel growth is complicated, and you’re probably not going to get it completely right the first time round. You might get it partially or even mostly right, but the shortcomings of a new product or service tend to only make themselves known once they’ve been exposed to customers.
Even if you do well on launch, customer expectations will change as time and technology marches forward.
The restless business owner will always be looking for ways to improve their offering anyway – so be restless. It’s essential to be willing to change and evolve your offering if you think the end result will be an improvement.
Solicit customer feedback to establish their behaviours, their preferences, and their desires. Once you’ve listened to the market, put this feedback into action: adjust your product or service – even when the adjustments seem minor or petty – experiment with new features, and identify opportunities for future innovations.
Maintaining market momentum
More than anything, build, and keep building. Stay still for too long, and your competition may move past you. To become a market challenger is to maintain your momentum as your rivals become sluggish; to find, traverse, and fill gaps in the market; to hungrily seek out and capitalise on opportunities for improvement.
If you keep moving, if you do your research, and if you never slow down, you – and your business – will be better equipped to improve your products, challenge the status quo, and tap into new (and potentially more profitable) markets.
Peter Linas, international managing director, Bullhorn
Boldly Going Forward: Taking Your Business Into The Future