Feeling like your business isn’t growing the way it should? Tactics that have worked in the past aren’t working as well? Is your company in the doldrums? All small businesses hit these kinds of “speed bumps” at times. It’s frustrating, and you feel like you’re just beating your head against the wall trying to find the right formula for growth.

Here are three key strategic directions you can pursue to accelerate growth.

  1. Develop and offer more products or services to your current customers
  2. Sell products into either new geographies or new markets to new customer groups.
  3. Introduce new products and sell them in new geographies or new markets.

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If you’ve got a nice base of customers who like you, many times you can figure out how you can be of even more service to them.

Perhaps there are related products or other types of services you can provide customers that will create profitable revenue. This strategy requires conversations with your customers that are definitely not sales oriented. Rather, they are an opportunity to listen and learn from your customers about what their needs are, how they’re using your product or service, other needs they have that might be unfulfilled. From that you can analyze areas of opportunity where you could help them further.

True Brands is a great example of this. The company started in 2003 selling just wine bags to wine retailers. Through excellent customer service and constantly asking how they could help more, the company has expanded rapidly, now providing an incredibly broad range of beverage-related products to grocery, mass merchandisers, wineries, liquor stores, gift shops and the like.

#2. Selling current products into new geographies or new markets.
If you are more of a local or regional business, explore opportunities to expand your geography. For instance, a custom software development firm that serves the southeastern United States could expand services into other parts of the country. Or, offer your products internationally rather than just in the US. Technology makes international expansion very easy these days.

There’s also an opportunity to take a product that is successful in one market or use case and sell it into a completely different one. The most famous example of this is Arm & Hammer baking soda. Sales flattened in the baking segment, so they developed new uses (examples, an alternative to toothpaste, refrigerator deodorizer. etc) that expanded how baking soda could be used. And grew sales dramatically.

#3. Developing new products and selling into new geographies or new markets.
This is clearly the higher risk direction and involves a lot of work to develop the new product, launch it, and train your organization to deliver that proposition into the market successfully without damaging your core business.

A classic example of this is Apple and their introduction of the iPod back in 2001 (can you believe it was that long ago?). The iPod was the first step in creating the Apple ecosystem. And of course was successful beyond all imagining, vastly increasing Apple’s customer base.

For any of these strategies, there’s a lot of up-front analysis of both your market as well as your customers to ensure you have the proper context for making these types of decisions. But there is huge upside in each of these strategies.


Have you checked out our Facebook Live series yet?  The most recent installment is about How to regain control when your business starts running you.