Collaboration has long been recognised as a driver of business success and Growth Generators see partnerships as the top accelerator of growth. More than two-fifths of the Growth Generators said they received advice from professional advisors and a similar proportion (45%) from their friends and family when pushing for growth.
It is this willingness to listen to several perspectives, then collaborate and adapt in response, that is critical to the success of the Growth Generators. Wherever firms are looking to grow, there will be someone who has been there before and Growth Generators look to find ways to access the value of this experience.
Who are the Growth Generators?
They made up 12 percent (119/1000) of our sample in our Planning for growth research. And they were close to 10 times more likely than low-to-no-growth businesses to achieve their growth targets.
Another key feature of the Growth Generators is their willingness to look not just across other markets but across other sectors with 60% looking outside their own sector for growth opportunities. This is compared to 48% of no-or-low growth companies.
Then there is the question of expanding into international markets. Most UK businesses do not currently do business overseas, and are often held back by fears of political uncertainty. But 15% of the Growth Generators group say they are planning to look for opportunities to trade abroad compared to just 9% of all respondents. They have a slightly greater appetite for taking on this challenge and have a better understanding of overseas regulation. That’s underpinned by a more outward-looking approach.
There are a number of examples of how this can be done successfully. Robert Hannah says: “The Scottish whisky industry has a number of businesses that aren’t that big but must trade overseas simply to survive – there isn’t enough demand in the UK alone. As a result, the industry has built networks, a supply chain and shared learnings built up over hundreds of years.”
Leverage the experiences of like-minded businesses
What works is finding like-minded businesses in international markets with good leadership and a solid track record. Businesses should then take the time to get to know potential partners, and leverage the value of being a British brand.
"Growth Generators continually refresh and update their professional networks to find opportunities, collaborations and insights to make better decisions. They understand the value of experience from others for whom global trade is normal business," says Simon Littlewood, head of business growth services.
Companies looking to grow also need to examine their existing partnerships and how to improve them. That should reflect an understanding of international opportunities across their growth strategy.
The Growth Generators do this by investing in what they need to expand in their desired markets – from language skills to local knowledge and relationships. They understand who they could work with and how they could share risks. They also take the time and effort to build knowledge and awareness by visiting local markets. Poonam Gupta of PG Paper Company Limited, explains: “The difficulty is not finding the right companies to partner with in other markets but convincing these companies why a partnership would work for them. You have to make a strong case. In order to do this it’s vital to understand the culture and businesses you are targeting and demonstrate where you have mutual goals.”