7 Growth Strategies That Will Help You Lead Your Industry

By Chalmers Brown, CTO of Due

Industry leaders typically do not show up out of nowhere to take their place as the premier name in an established field. Exceptions do apply, usually in cases of being one of the first names in a brand new field such as Bitcoin BTC/USD. Many industries are crowded and make it difficult to start a company and immediately stand out. For example, streaming services are already varied and common; any new entries into the field will need to build their name and offerings to break out from the rest of the pack.

Most businesses start small and evolve through various stages until their hard work and good decisions set them apart from their competitors. Throughout this process, they make adjustments to stay on the path toward their goals.

Unfortunately, “hard work and good decisions” is an extremely vague and inactionable piece of advice for businesses looking to grow into the upper echelons of their industry. To become a leader in your industry, consider the following tips and make sure you have a plan in place to address each one. 

1. Positive narrative for your digital landscape

Perception in the industry does matter and contribute to growth. However, many companies have impressive numbers, but the digital landscape doesn’t reflect the narrative associated with company success. The public relations world has changed significantly, and understanding trends in digital PR can help you refine your company’s narrative to match its success in its industry. 

Most obviously is the notion that if you’re doing well, a strong online presence is expected. If a basic web search on main features of your business doesn’t yield results on the first two pages, it doesn’t create the impression that you’re a leader in your industry. So make sure your digital presence is in line with, or even a bit more optimistic than, your actual standing. Whether you’re in need of a website overhaul or an SEO campaign, find where you’re coming up short and adjust accordingly.

2. Scalability in distribution

The growth of companies like Tradefull and Pattern are a nice example of how brick and mortar businesses are able to find partners to help them monetize in the future. Some retail companies have struggled with growth but have been scared to make the jump to ecommerce. However, with the services above, a company can use their software and resources to make the jump to ecommerce without a lot of headaches. 

With more individuals demanding online access to goods and services, it’s imperative that you take whatever steps necessary to be able to reach your customer base. Picking the right software and resources can give you the ability to provide your goods and services and get paid for them without the need for customers to physically walk through your door.

3. Own your niche 

It’s one thing to be knowledgeable in a certain area or offer a competitive product. It’s quite another to be considered an expert or offer something special that sets you apart from the competition. Rather than attempting to appeal to large factions of the population, success can be had in niche markets.

For example, safe phones for kids is a somewhat niche market in itself. Gabb Wireless has found that with the rapid expanse of smartphone usage, kids' safety has been often overlooked. Families benefit from the communication aspect of tech, but don’t want the dangers that come with it. Gabb Wireless has cornered a niche market through specializing in kids tech solely focused on safety.

This specialization can give you the edge when it comes to being a recognized name in a targeted industry. To narrow your vision, you should ask yourself an important question. If you could pick one group of people that considers you the go-to resource, what group would that be? 

If you claim to offer the most durable and comfortable shoe on the market, you could attempt to gain name recognition worldwide. With the hundreds of brand names available, such widespread goals might not be reasonable. Instead, you could try to get your name in the minds of specific sectors such as healthcare or car dealership sales workers. By taking this approach, you don’t have to be known by everyone. You just need to be known by the group you want to gain brand loyalty with. 

4. Evolving decision making around data 

It might be considered admirable in general life to make a plan and see it through to the end. However, it might be considered foolish to continue with a process that is obviously not working. In the world of business, that’s where data analysis can help you make informed decisions about necessary adjustments to your business strategies.

Decisions based on data are especially important when it comes to marketing metrics. To create a strong digital presence, you need to know how your marketing strategies are performing. If you don’t know how long people are staying on your website or where traffic is originating from, it’s difficult to get a sense of where improvements could be made. 

Plans and strategies should always be subject to change in light of evolving circumstances. Since the world has a tendency of providing unforeseen variables in spades, data gives you a bottom line view of how your actions are performing in response to those variables. 

5. Investing in employee development

Human beings generally don’t respond well to stagnation. If a worker feels their career path or skill set has no room for advancement within your organization, chances are they’ll start to see if they can shine elsewhere. 

Applying this concept to your workforce can be a game changer in reducing turnover and bringing out the best performances in your employees. And since a strong, happy workforce is key to high business output, employee development strategies should be implemented across the board.

Employee development techniques can either be internal or external. An example of external development might include offering continuing education reimbursement. That way, employees can gain the additional skills and knowledge they need to advance to higher positions within your organization. As a bonus, in most circumstances you can deduct those reimbursements as business expenses.

If you want to keep your development program internal, you can initiate a mentorship program. Implementation can be easier than you’d imagine. Whether you choose to reference a pre-made template or create a customized program through a software platform such as MentorCloud, a mentorship arrangement doesn’t have to be designed from scratch. As long as you successfully create a system in which less experienced workers can get guidance and direction from veterans, you should see results in stability and retention.

6. Increase productivity with technology

It has been said that time is our most valuable resource since it is impossible to get back. With more and more business functions in a digital rather than physical format, using tech savvy to streamline processes can yield huge time savings and increase overall productivity.

One of the most basic pieces of technology you need to be adept at is a scheduling app. Many of the fortune 500 companies use Outlook Calendar, but there are dozens of other options that may fit your purposes better. And the deeper you dive into the various features offered by scheduling apps, the more time savings there are to be had. From multiple-person views to recurring reminders, these apps go far beyond the limited benefits of physical calendars.  

Tech can also be a great resource for eliminating tasks that cut into the usable work day. Frequent meetings used to be a workplace necessity for announcements, brainstorming, and generally getting groups of people on the same page. Collaboration software has made it possible to keep small and large groups functioning together and organizing.

By analyzing where your business spends the bulk of its time unrelated to revenue-generating functions, you can investigate what technology is available to streamline those tasks and processes.

7. Focus on building relationships

Being a member of the local country club might be an outdated requirement for business socialization and relationship building. That doesn’t mean that placing a priority on creating relationships amongst your peers and other industry professionals is a waste of time. 

Strong relationships in the business community have the potential to benefit you in a variety of ways. First, it can play a huge role in getting your name or brand circulating amongst other businesses and professionals. Second, you never know when you might meet someone with a skillset or area of expertise that can provide a new avenue for your business that would be inaccessible otherwise.

For example, OnPay CEO Jesse Burgess successfully expanded from standard payroll services to also offering benefits administration and HR services. He was able to achieve this through a connection he made with an investment banker who provided advice and later came onboard as the company’s COO. This connection was vital in the success of the company as a whole and differentiating it from similar competitors.

If you let relationship building and networking fall by the wayside, you are depriving yourself of resources and opportunities. So whether you engage with others online or in person, those connections are valuable and should be a priority.

More than a good product

Attaining leadership status within an industry is more than just offering a good product or service. Every component of your organization, both internally and externally, needs to be focused on function and perception. 

By getting people talking about what you do and recognizing your brand, you know you have positioned yourself as a strong competitor in your given field. Combined with strong internal processes to bolster both your present and future success, you can become the standard that others strive to become.

Posted In: contributorsEducationOpinionSuccess StoriesStartupsMarketsGeneral

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