Choosing the basics when looking at Asian expansion

Today there is a near continuous need for companies to keep repositioning themselves and re-work their strategies in the pursuit of success, which is important here in Asia where growth is expected to continue. According to a 2017 IMF report, Asia Pacific growth will remain strong at 5.4% in 2018 as the region continues to be the leader of global growth.

To help drive continued growth in Asia, businesses of all sizes need to creatively deliver new avenues of revenue for which I am suggesting four key ways for these new revenue streams below. These tips have been gathered from my years of speaking to and working with entrepreneurs and C-suite executives, and my time working as a managing director of a key channel partner in the Salesforce ecosystem. Together they form an essential toolkit for business owners who want to ensure the continued expansion of their companies.

1. Taking on talent

It is often said that a company is only as good as its people, yet hiring the right people for your company needs careful planning. It’s critical to establish the specific types of skills and expertise you need for your business and the role and team you are recruiting for. Consider whether you want to bolster your workforce with general skills that can be moulded into different areas of your business or, find specialist skills and experience that will plug expertise gaps and or help you accelerate into new product areas or markets.

A workforce should be as diverse as the customers it serves. Having people from diverse backgrounds will help your business gain better insights into providing products and services to societies that are increasingly diverse themselves.

2. Have a customer-obsessive culture

Both short and long-term success relies on establishing new and loyal customer bases. When organisations start out, they are very customer-driven and their sole focus is gaining customers and keeping them happy. However, as businesses grow, it can be easy to lose focus on your customers and let processes get in the way, eventually negating this customer-obsession.

There are ways to tackle this problem. Analyse your current customer base to spot strengths and weaknesses on how your company performs when retaining customers. Pay close attention to market trends. Conduct surveys, interview new, current and lapsed customers, and more importantly listen to – and act upon – all customer feedback and concerns.

Net Promoter Score (NPS), for example, is a great way to measure customer experience and predict business growth as promoters are measured by positive feedback provided, as well as those who will readily refer or promote the business to others and vice versa for detractors. By adopting NPS, businesses can ask the right questions to track promoters and detractors, producing a clear measure of an organisation’s performance through the eyes of the customer. Another way of giving customers clear and precise means of purchase and payment is to make it easy for them to purchase and pay again.

3. Adapt to changing technologies for instant business benefits

There is a lot of scope for companies to make better use of modern technologies, services and systems to improve their operations and help support growth. ADB’s analysis of a dozen Asian economies between 2005 and 2015 found that the rising demand was more than compensated for jobs lost to automation.

Adopting cloud-based services, for example, is a way to reduce your company's established IT infrastructure. While this not only reduces costs and improves efficiencies, it can also free up your IT team to explore further ways to use emerging technology that will improve a business rather than just reacting to issues.

This same technology can also give your workers flexibility to work on the move or remotely. This can give them the scope to be more adaptable in how they carry out their day-to-day tasks or pursue new business opportunities. A recent survey puts improved flexibility as the driving force behind 76 percent of “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) solutions.

Advanced systems with machine learning and artificial intelligence features can automate time-consuming administration or data processing tasks to reduce time wasted on repetitive tasks. Such technology can free up teams to carry out more innovative and strategic tasks to directly bolster business growth and bottom line, while ensuring greater workplace efficiency.

Used wisely, technology can help make your company more innovative, productive and provide the foundations for the next stage in growth.

4. Choosing the right partner for business growth

The success or failure of any business relationship depends heavily on how well the partnership works. Particular effort should be directed towards ensuring the right relationships are formed. Businesses need to establish precisely what they are seeking to achieve from these relationships, whether it be, expanding into new territories, providing new services, or discovering a new route to market.

Once you have a partnership in place with defined and shared goals, it is important to foster growth and set up a rhythm of checking-in on the status of the partnership at regular intervals. This can be done by setting up a mutual performance contract to manage and monitor each other’s expectations.

The benefits of such a business partnership, be it with a supplier or technology partner usually outweighs any disadvantages and can contribute in a big way to accelerating a business’s growth. For example, sharing of contacts, supply chains, or the experience of how to break into new markets or arenas that you may not have considered before. This could then be further expanded to develop small one-to-one partnerships, into group ventures, or even establish a community of companies, suppliers and customers working together. No man is an island, and no company is either.

Boosting business growth is not about gimmicks or quick wins. This “win-as-a-team” attitude must permeate every department and employee, drive every decision and inform every choice. It is a team trait I believe in and practice when managing Sage Asia.

- Arlene Wherrett, VP and Managing Director, Sage Asia -