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Is there a way not only to survive a bad situation but to turn it into a good one? There is absolutely – many organizations already do. Targeted expansion during an economic downturn doesn't exactly follow traditional wisdom, but that's what the world's most successful companies have learned.
Some companies like Amazon, DoorDash, and Zoom have been fortunate to be able to naturally take advantage of the current pandemic-triggered recession. Others, like Spotify, did it with quick thinking.
While we all wish we could see some normalcy on the horizon, the uncertainty we face doesn't mean we can't grow our business any further. For executives – whether business leaders or sole proprietorships – this growth must begin with a persistent mindset. Even more than in “normal” times, you have to want the bar to move and be ready for the challenges that arise from it.
If you have an appetite for growth but are struggling with where to start, here are three growth drivers to get you thinking.
1. Customer obsession
It's not just companies that are in trouble – everyone is. Bringing empathy to your customers' minds can provide insight into the challenges they are facing, and by looking at the data, you can see how their needs have evolved in parallel with a changing world . For example, people eat less but shop more from home. And when they shop online, they buy more items at a single checkout but check out less often. Brand trustworthiness has increased in importance and discretionary purchases are on the decline.
These are just a few examples of how consumer behavior has changed. By keeping abreast of such changes and combining critical observation with empathy, you can consider how to configure your range of products or services to increase sales and increase bottom line.
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2. Elevated access
Access is a one-way street. It's important to think not only about how well customers can access your business, but also how you can access your customers (or prospects). In the former case, “digital transformation” is still the name of the game. Is your company in the digital space and able to do business online? If you've postponed creating social media profiles for your brand or setting up ecommerce features, there has never been a more important time to fix this.
Related Topics: 5 Tips for Using Social Media to Scale Your Online Business
Access to your customers is the often overlooked downside of the digital paradigm. How much does it cost you to deliver your product or service today? Analyze the profitability in your company and see if you can trade a margin to increase your marketing spend. If your service is more responsive to customer needs than the incumbent provider (and if those providers haven't evolved) now may be a good time to go on the offensive and steal market share. When it comes to physical goods, improving customer access can be as simple as finding distributors who are closer to your customers and from there building a distribution network that cuts costs significantly.
3. Brave tactics in a strange world
Attention is one of the hardest things to get hold of right now. For this reason, growth requires relieving the fear of another perspective. Fortunately, different doesn't always have to mean unique. One way to find such an angle is to look at what works for other companies, possibly even in other industries. It could work for you too.
Some grocers and retailers are offering pre-opening hours for seniors and vulnerable groups during the COVID crisis. A number of companies are offering unprecedented free trials and other sales promotions. This grocer, who used to serve restaurants, instead focused on "contactless" delivery of food to consumers. Failure is okay, but trying is everything. It will be brave to break the mess.
Related: 7 Strategies To Be Successful With This Demanding, Difficult Client
By its very nature, growth is a struggle. The ideas above can help alleviate the growing pain, and those who want to go through with the process will inevitably come across many other successful tactics.
Entrepreneurs and executives can see themselves as nodes in a network of people who all face the same challenges. The knowledge is out there, as is the help. But we have to be willing to ask, and it can be as simple as reaching your local Chamber of Commerce or taking inspiration from colleagues on LinkedIn.
Taking action now should be a priority, especially when aligning for growth. Ideas can be thrown or repeated whenever something doesn't work. In the meantime, every moment is a missed opportunity.
Related: Starting an Online Business in a Bad Economy