JOHANNESBURG - Even as South Africa’s economic growth remains sluggish, businesses still need to keep their eye on the prize by looking at an effective growth strategy for the year.
This should include ways to expand operations and increase sales revenue.
While they should avoid unnecessary debt and postpone some bold moves until the economy picks up again, here are some tips to encourage growth:
Diversify your customer base. It can be risky if your customer base is too niche, as similar consumers would likely be affected by the same changes in the market. Look to attract new and different customers by shifting your marketing strategy. There could also be potential profits in shifting your sales focus to better engage existing customers.
Focus on what you do best. Instead of spreading your resources too thin, define your unique selling proposition (USP) and focus on your core offering, because it is probably the most profitable aspect of your business anyway. Consistent service delivery and a high-value product will always put you a cut above the rest.
While tough economic times often mean marketing budgets are slashed, it is actually the most important time to be promoting your business. As consumers tighten their belts and
look for the best bang for their buck, their buying decisions can be swayed by clever and targeted marketing strategies.
Utilise staff as brand ambassadors. A commonly untapped resource for business is your staff. They have their own networks and can have influence in certain circles, so consider incentivising them to be positive brand ambassadors for your business and even bring in new clients.
Cash is the lifeblood of any business, which is why it is especially important to track everything that goes out and in during trying times. Look to cut hidden costs, such as switching suppliers or purchasing second-hand machinery instead of new.
Innovate, innovate, innovate – Some of the best inventions were created in response to a challenge, which goes to show that there are opportunities for business innovation during tough economic times. It can help to keep abreast of trends and always take an entrepreneurial approach.
Look at potential growth sectors – An example of a key sector for growth in South Africa is tourism, due to the lifting of visa restrictions.
Ben Bierman is the managing director of Business Partners Limited.