Have you ever started your own company? Many of us learned that to be successful in getting that fledgling firm to take flight we had to pour copious amounts of time, energy and resources into building its wings. We likely had to keep tweaking the wing design until we finally figured out the right business model and market niche. Many entrepreneurs experience failure in that process. Nothing teaches the lessons of mistakes quite as much as a fiery crash and failure.
When I talk with growth-stage and multinational companies, their operational risks have been minimized, but so have their revenue growth rates. It’s harder to produce double-digit growth in maturing markets and difficult to cultivate an innovative competitive edge with larger companies. Employees just get a little too comfortable with those steady automatic-deposit paychecks to risk it all on a crazy new product idea. Which all leads to the question:
What can be done to spur higher growth rates in maturing companies?
A maturing company should establish programs and policies to encourage innovation and greater revenue creation. This probably sounds obvious. But then it needs to go steps further to specifically allow for failure without penalty. Some larger companies have already started. IBM and Apple are great examples of company culture being redefined to help the best ideas to take flight.
Investigate New Geographic Markets
Many younger companies are “accidental” exporters. They have international clients who found their website or booth at an industry trade show, researched the product, sold themselves on the product, and then came prepared with a sales order. Maybe the company even found their way into a neighboring same-language market.
But to spur serious growth, it may make sense to carefully investigate previously overlooked markets. For an example, I look to the beer industry. The U.S. beer market has been flat for years. At the same time the Chinese market has been growing at 20% market growth for decades. While the market is radically different, it’s still worth doing the calculations to see if there are profits to be made in quenching the thirst of the most populous market in the world.
Hire Talent with Entrepreneurial Skills
Company founders and early-stage employees have to be incredibly resourceful and dedicated. What’s more, the focus in young companies has to be on results over process or else the company won’t survive. That’s why the entrepreneurial skills can be so valuable.
I don’t mean that process isn’t important. I actually spend a fair amount of time in growing companies figuring which processes will streamline repeated operations. But at a recent growing company, I found that the motions of going through the process had taken 8 weeks to publish a single blog post instead of what should have taken under 2 weeks. Process steps became bureaucratic and filled staff’s hours instead of focusing on results. That sometimes means moving forward without perfect information or that fifth copy check.
Entrepreneurs can never lose sight of that end goals of the pipeline growth, product release, national account sale, and other make-or-break company or department milestones. Results can be best encouraged and measured in all employees through performance metrics.
These are just a few ideas. There are many more ways to get out of the multinational routine and spurn new growth. To find out what your growth accelerators might be to leverage your company’s assets and specific to your industry, contact me for a 30-minute consultation.
Wishing you all the best in your international efforts,
The International Entrepreneur