Reviving and Expanding an Existing Business
I joined a life science business operating with just two developers and a sales person with a brief to “keep the lights on” selling outdated technology in a fragmented market. In my two years there I expanded the business to 9 employees and doubled sales. Specific successes included,
- First to market with a new product in a new market. The product was developed from concept to first sales within 6 months. Within 2 years it generated a 33% increase in sales a month.
- A new company brand with remarkable sales support material and promotional events. Our own labelled beer from a Tyneside brewery. Hard cover technical books on how our software was different to anything else. Presenting our expertise as speaker at customer conferences.
- Built a presence in the US market with customers for a new product. I led a sales visit to nurture 5 key accounts across 3 different states in 1 week. All accounts were closed within expected lead to sales time with a 10:1 ROI.
- Rationalised the suite of existing products. Reducing the significant overhead required to maintain and develop them, with no loss of product group sales.
- Targeting a fragmented market with the same product. Promoting the specific benefits that customers in each vertical market were driven by.
- A contract for bespoke software development with a German company worth £100K
- Integrated a 10 year old highly technical product in a dying market into the existing portfolio of company products. Six months later it supported 25-50% of sales each month. Our biggest competitor, with a like-for-like product, replaced their software with our version in an OEM agreement.
Competing with Big Companies in Your Market
I’ve worked in SMEs successfully competing against big companies selling the same high-end products to the same customers. Big companies of $4Bn and $2Bn sales. More than 10,000 and 8,000 employees each. With the marketing budgets, international sales teams and in-house support to match.
Stay ahead of your big competitors by choosing not to compete on their terms. You offer things they simply cannot within their business constraints. Things that connect you easily with the scale of customers you need to make sales growth.
The internal dynamics and limitations of the large scale corporations creates a space where a start-up or SME has freedom to compete on their terms.
Read my series of blog posts. Each covering something special your SME or start-up has to make it successful against company giants in a specialized, niche market.
- Skill test from RTC North to research the baby monitor market and future opportunities on behalf of Tommee Tippee. In my analysis I found (a) market was saturated with similar and lower cost products (b) new technology, for example video monitors, was already established. So revenues from developing new products and extending life of existing products in the existing market would be limited. I looked at alternatives and presented that the home care of elderly relatives presented a new market. My findings were validated by existing strategy at Jackel International Limited.
- Delivered market and business analysis to support strategic and operational decisions that successfully maintained market share and used in securing OEM deals worth £100K & £1M+
Planning for future revenue beyond your current products and markets
I was given a company brief to define the top 3 new market opportunities, outside doing the same products to same markets, to build up sales over 3 years.
“Balance getting new product ideas into active development and market testing to create growth within 2 years and selling existing products to continue revenue over the next 12-18 months”
After 2 months my report enabled the business to prioritise 3 candidate projects.
One was chosen to actively work on and got a market test product within 3 months.
I worked on the 2 other projects and presented them to review and upgrade/downgrade priority each quarter based on latest information learnt from the markets.
- 3 collaborations over 3 years with academic R&D departments for proof of concept testing of new technology. I acted as industrial partner in each case and jointly secured £16K of grants in total over the 3 projects. Each project was cash neutral for the businesses and benefited regional academic partners. Created 2 new jobs.
- Company representative in Human Proteome Organization Industrial Advisory Board. Co-author on articles, papers and scientific posters defining next generation challenges and solutions for ‘omics research and clinical application.
- Selected to facilitate two focus groups of key opinion leaders with across four different time zones. Using my own tactics I gained a consensus on what benefits new generations of existing products should provide for the future. This allowed a decision to be made on return on investment. And which products to actively develop next.
- Invited speaker at the North East region Finance Directors at the Chartered Institute of Accountants annual briefing. Introduced as an export success story by UKTI based on sales of new product to Eastern Europe and Japan