How Successful IT Companies Continue to Grow
From the outside looking in, running an IT business might appear to be nothing but sunshine and blue skies. The industry is growing, demand for services is at an all-time high, and the nature of the Internet and cloud services is such that there’s little to stop companies from growing year-over-year revenues and enjoying ongoing success.
But the reality isn’t quite as rosy for many firms. Heavy competition creates a noisy marketplace in which it’s a challenge for growth-minded firms to scale up in a manner that’s both efficient and sustainable.
If the challenges of growth resonate for you and your company, it’s essential for you to adjust your approach and perhaps apply some different techniques to keep achieving your goals.
Six Secrets of Sustainable Growth
There’s growth … and then there’s sustainable growth. The former is all about quick wins and immediate sales numbers. The latter is about long-term profitability.
In order for IT companies to reap sustainable business growth over many years, certain steps are necessary. Let’s explore six of these essential keys to success.
You must have a clear idea of your audience. A generic concept of who you think they are won’t cut it. You need an intimate understanding.
There are plenty of tools and resources to get a grasp of who your audience may be. Your website analytics are a decent starting point … as are your social media followers, sales data, and industry reports.
2. Differentiate Your Product
It should go without saying, but in a competitive industry, differentiation is paramount. Though your core services may be very similar to those of your competitors, you have to find ways to differentiate with auxiliary services, distinct branding, and unique value offerings.
Some of this will happen naturally via customer service (more on that in the next item), but additional differentiation can be fostered through such tools as branding and pricing.
3. Provide Unparalleled Customer Service
Very few businesses give customer service the sort of attention it deserves. Even the ones that have decent customer service tend to regard it as a secondary point of emphasis.
But this is a foolish and shortsighted approach. When you drill down to identify exactly what you’re doing with your business, you have to remember you exist to serve the needs of your customers.
That’s literally the reason you’re in operation. So to make customer service only a secondary consideration is foolish.
Providing unparalleled customer service takes time and plenty of effort, but it’s almost always worth the investment. Satisfied customers are more likely to (a) give you return business, and (b) tell others about their positive experiences with your brand.
The best way to deliver exceptional customer service is to focus on personalizing interactions through the use of the human touch. There’s nothing wrong with using automated tools to streamline some of the mundane facets of support, but don’t ever put everything on autopilot.
There’s something uniquely compelling about person-to-person support in a universe of robocalls and automated emails. Taking the time to make personal connections will set your business apart.
4. Invest in SEO and Link Building
When was the last time you personally bought something that cost more than $100 without first doing some research on the product or the service? If you’re like most people, this rarely if ever happens.
Data suggests that 88 percent of consumers research their purchases online before finalizing the transaction. And where does the majority of this research start? With Google (News - Alert), of course.
If you’re a business owner, this makes search engine optimization (SEO) supremely vital. And if you want to improve your search rankings, link building is the best way to carve out some authority.
You might want to engage an SEO link-building agency to flesh out what this would look like for your business.
5. Continually Innovate
Stagnation is the enemy of IT success. What’s regarded as elite or best-in-class today will become dated and out-of-touch tomorrow.
You can’t afford to rest on your laurels and ride your current wave of success, no matter how big. You need to innovate almost constantly or you’ll risk falling behind.
One practical way to keep your mind on innovation is to hold regular brainstorming sessions in which you meet with various team members and toss around fresh ideas. Most of them will never amount to anything, but it’s more about the process and posture.
You’re trying to get people to think regularly outside the box … knowing that ultimately, your best innovations will likely come from within.
6. Maintain a Talent Pipeline
What would happen if one of your best employees turned in her letter of resignation tomorrow morning? Would you scramble and feel like a hopeless fish out of water?
Or would you move confidently forward, knowing you have a solid replacement waiting in the wings? Good employees don’t stick around forever, so you should be prepared for the possibility that yours may leave.
The best way to do that is to develop a talent pipeline, which is essentially a group of promising candidates you’ve engaged in the past who can fill future roles within your organization.
And the proper way to build a talent pipeline is to be constantly on the lookout for talented professionals, even when you don’t have any active openings. When you identify such individuals, ask them to lunch.
Be honest in your initial contact and let them know you don’t have a job to offer them today, but you may wish to reach out in the future when an opening does occur. Most people will be delighted to comply.
Assuming you’re able to make a competitive offer when the time comes, your pre-existing acquaintance will give you a head start.
Growth With Purpose
Saying you want to expand your business is a lot like saying you want to be a successful executive. Both concepts are largely subjective, and there’s no way to quantify what’s being sought.
The only way to grow is to do it with purpose. You need to have specific short-term goals, long-term objectives, and measures for analyzing how you’re doing in pursuit of the outcomes.
By focusing on some of the secrets and tips outlined above, you’ll stand a much better chance of articulating and executing growth in a manner that substantively benefits your company for years to come.