For those of you who have just acquired or started a business in Singapore and think everything is going swimmingly, here’s something that you probably won’t want to hear:
If you think that you can sit back, relax and watch your business take flight, think again.
One of the challenges that many business leaders face is sustaining the growth of their business. It is not easy to attain sustainability, but the following points can help a business make headway in their journey.
1. Business Purpose
Purpose, in general, is knowing why one does the things they do. This is the same in business. Why is your business there? What does it hope to accomplish?
When you understand why a business exists, you are able to structure all the processes of your business, including product development, recruitment, sales, and customer service among other aspects, around it. This sense of purpose will also drive profitability and growth. Your staff will also have a larger goal to work towards, making them feel fulfilled and motivated.
With a purpose that is inspiring and authentic, your company can achieve the following:
• A focus that is consistent and constant
• Pragmatic innovation on a continuous basis
• Emotional engagement from within and without the company, i.e. staff, partners and customers
• A unique selling proposition
2. The Brand
Building emotional connections and brand equity with customers is one of the most crucial things for a business looking to be sustainable. This ensures that the customer feels connected to the product and the brand, and so increases the probability of them coming back.
Brand building is really about developing relationships with your clients and consumers, and sustaining them through the years.
More often than not, this is usually the hardest part to get through. But this is how you can get it done:
• Select a target audience—it is virtually impossible to provide everything for everyone.
• Create a connection with the target audience by making them feel emotionally connected to the brand. This connection will be grounded on product confidence.
• Provide inspiration. Customers want to be inspired to use your products. Go further than product advertising—inspire them with ideas, functions, and product features.
If your business doesn’t have the budget for an elaborate marketing plan, don’t fret. You can consider creating compelling content for your social media pages and other publishing websites. The goal is to first create awareness then build up on that over time.
3. Embrace Change
Technology has changed how we operate and businesses must also be ready and willing to change, and to do it fast.
Sadly, any business that does not change with the times is most likely going to become extinct. Take Kodak and Blockbuster for example. They were not able to keep up with the digital revolution, which eventually resulted in their demise.
Your business must always be innovating and taking these innovative ideas to the market as quickly as possible if you wish to stay ahead of the competition.
Competition within industries has changed greatly over the years. For example, banking is no longer about walking to the banking hall to make transfers, or even walking to an ATM. Today it can all be done in the comfort of one’s home using one’s mobile phone or computer.
More recently, DBS/POSB launched their Video Teller Machines (VTMs), allowing their customers to receive round-the-clock banking assistance. These VTMs are also capable of dispensing internet banking security tokens and debit cards on the spot.
Retail businesses have also gone online. In fact, there are retailers who do not even see the need for a physical store. All they have is a storage space from which they ship their goods. This business model is cheaper, which means that they are able to offer more competitive prices.
Smart retailers are keeping their physical outlets, but also offering online shopping to clients in order to gain a wider reach. By changing quickly and leveraging technology, such businesses are able to compete and stay relevant.
4. Create Value
Most companies have brilliant ideas, services or products, but unfortunately, are not selling like they would want to.
The challenge for such businesses is finding the right strategy. This strategy can be used when introducing their products or services to the market so as to provide value. The client must be able to see said products or services as a solution for the problems that they need resolved.
The business must have their finger on the pulse where value propositions are concerned, and must bring their goods to the market at the right time. The focus should always be on creating products and services that offer high value and high capability.
5. Collaboration And Partnerships
Even though most business people start businesses by being jacks of all trades, with time, they often find that they have too much on their plate.
They offer customer service, do sales, accounting, and so much more. As the business continues to grow, it is prudent to stick with things that you are good at and have experience in, while outsourcing the rest or getting additional skilled help to run the areas you are less of an expert in.
By going online, you’ll be able to find a variety of marketplaces and websites where one can source skilled help from around the world at affordable rates. One must know just what it is they want done and then obtain the right resources to help them achieve their goals.
6. Retaining Customers
According to the Harvard Business Review, gaining one new customer can cost a company 5 to 25 times what it costs to keep the ones they already have. Further research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company shows that reducing the rate of customer defection by 5% can increase profits by 25 to 95%.
The US Chamber of Commerce carried out research and found out the following information, which is also true for businesses elsewhere:
• On average, a business loses about half of its customers every 5 years
• Companies are four times more likely to do business with an existing customer than a new one
• The chances of making a sale when dealing with a new customer range from 5 to 20 percent. This percentage jumps significantly to 60 or 70 percent when dealing with an existing customer.
In order to retain customers, your first impression matters and the products must add value to the client. Additionally, the company must remain relevant through the years in order to enjoy repeat business.
7. Repeatable Sales
Having a unique product and a great brand is fantastic, but it is definitely not enough.
The sales process used by businesses should be one that can be repeated over and over again and produce great results each time, on a greater scale.
The model will be considered scalable when the following can be achieved:
• New hires can be added who will operate at the productivity level of the sales leader or business owner
• Customers are able to get company products and services at the right place and time
• Customer lead sources can be increased at a constant pace
• The cost of acquiring new customers is much less than what you will earn in revenue from sales to the same customers
• Your revenue and sales conversion rate are consistent enough to provide great forecasting
A sales model that can be repeated with successful results provides the platform for the company to scale. It is important to note, however, that your company will have to carry out intense research and many experiments before it finally lands on a sustainable sales model.
Hopefully with the above 7 points, you can finally sit back, relax and watch your business take flight!
This article first appeared as 7 Effective Tips for a Sustainable Business in Singapore on Money Kinetics: Singapore’s definitive guide to financial literacy. Money Kinetics helps Singaporeans compare and evaluate loans, deals, cards and guide them to make their money work for them.
The article has been edited for concision and style with the permission of Money Kinetics.