At our retail classes we always talk about the lifecycle of a business. What stage are you at, what are the pitfalls to avoid at every level (big international businesses have problems too, they’re just totally different from start-up or growth issues!) But perhaps most crucial is how should you be prepare to break through to the next level? Today I wanted to talk about growing beyond that initial start-up stage. When you’re no longer the new kid on the block, when all that flattery, attention, curiosity and a rise in takings has waned somewhat what do you do next to keep your business growing?
Diversify and add a few new weapons to your arsenal – workshops, bespoke services, seek out new products, host launches and late-night shopping events, keep reinventing and keep your customers coming back. Everyone in retail has two main drops a year for Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer. But that isn’t enough to keep people coming back to you all year round. You have to introduce smaller drops of fresh new products throughout the year – some bigwigs will have up to 8-10 drops a year! Like I say it keeps things fresh and constantly moving.
GRAB THE SPOTLIGHT
If you’ve been lucky enough to get press attention at launch then that’s great, but that’s the easy bit I’m afraid! After all, launching is news. Still being there isn’t news – “SHOP STILL IN SAME PLACE DOING SAME THING” is never going to make a headline! So you can’t assume the press are going to continue to write about you – after launch it takes more and more effort in order to get their attention. You have to create stories and news angles, your products have to be interesting, you need to be doing something new that other people aren’t doing.
The same goes for getting your customers’ attention of course, you have to innovate and keep giving them something fresh. The best brands manage social feeds which are intriguing and engaging, and really blur the lines between e-commerce and editorial.
Collaborations are great. You gain more exposure, create a new alliance, find a new audience – it’s a win-win. I realise I am very privileged being asked to design for Debenhams and we’ve all been blown away by the sales!If you can collaborate with like-minded brands, (and not just interiors, maybe cool food start-ups, fashion or tech companies) then go for it.
Having said that, a collaboration has to be right for you and your brand. I get asked a lot to collaborate, and being the super fussy person I am, I end up saying no to a lot of them. I need the fit to be right because unless I am 100% behind something I can’t give it the passion, dedication and time it deserves. Don’t get me wrong, I am always flattered and grateful to be asked, but I know my brand better than anyone and ultimately if it won’t work out it’s not going to do us or a potential partner any favours.
WHATEVER YOU DO, DO IT GOOD*
Do everything you can to be very best that you can. This isn’t just an attitude (though it sure helps!) you’ll actually get all sorts of business opportunities as a result. There’s nothing interesting in being average, so aim to be the best in your field. Find opportunities to write and talk and speak about what you’re doing – become an influencer, a leader, a pioneer, and extend your influence as far as you possibly can.
Growing old happens to all of us and to every business too. In order to create continuous growth, never allow yourself to get stale or to rest on your laurels. Always always push boundaries, aim for the stars and do the best you can possibly do.
*(As Charles Wright would say)