Growth and expansion are provocative words in business. They suggest all things good, abundant, and forward-moving – more revenue, more brand exposure, more leverage and influence. When seasons of success accumulate under your belt growth often feels like the next logical step, much like marriage after a long courtship. Yet, whether your business is big or small, pursuing meaningful growth can be a challenging endeavor. From risk assessment and investment to consideration of culture and consistency of experience, expansion is wrought with challenges that can obscure the potential benefits. After all the analysis involved you may find yourself wondering: do we really want to do this?
Thom Breslin (director of design, Starbucks UK & Ireland) purports that failure to “innovate, renovate, and constantly seek relevance” leads to corporate death. (Well that’s certainly not what we want!) To help your business frame the enormity of the conversation surrounding the question “what’s next?,” here are some realities to jumpstart your thinking:
- Leaders look for ways to be where people are and not make customers seek them out.
- In an increasingly competitive marketplace, it is essential that you experiment with bold concepts to keep your brand fresh and determine what new ideas resonate in the communities you serve.
- Maximized choice is essential to today’s global consumer, but with choice comes a responsibility to ensure that you can execute your new product offerings at a level commensurate with your existing levels of excellence.
- Observe your customers, then adopt, adapt, and extrapolate new ideas that will connect both locally and globally.
- Internationally, people have many common needs, but culture affects how people will want to connect with your brand.
- Store design must have functional and local relevance to the communities served, as should the products offered in those settings.
In my newest book, Leading the Starbucks Way, I share a business principle that I refer to as “Reach for Common Ground.” That is, to respect, celebrate & customize while listening and innovating to meet local, regional, and global needs. When next you find yourself casually traveling through Switzerland, be on the lookout for the Starbucks train car café that runs at 120 miles per hour. This concept café brings new meaning to “mobilize the connection” and embodies the painstaking detail and care that is often required to leap into a new market or engage customers in a unique way or place. The Seattle Times reported that it took nearly two years to transfer the Starbucks experience as we know it to a train car moving at such speed. No stranger to thinking in an outside-of-the-box fashion when it comes to growth, Starbucks sought relevancy by bringing that “third place” to where customers already were.
If Thom Breslin is correct, what is your business doing to stay alive and thrive in new markets?