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How to navigate expansion pitfalls in changing business landscape

By Jotham Gichuhi | May 28th 2019

Who doesn’t wish their organisation to be read in the CNBC business news as the newest entrant to the F500 and join the likes of Wayfair and MetLife?

The motivation for such business growth are as diverse as the size of the global registry - some to grow and dominate global markets, match the growth of their significant customers while for others, it’s for a “feel good effect’’ that their company footprint is finally in the global space.

Growth in its purest sense goes beyond brick and motor expansion and could be achieved either through vertical or horizontal integration.

Growth in many cases is meant to insulate an organisation from being out-spaced from the market by new entrants or the existing contemporaries.

Before making any growth decisions, a few critical but inconspicuous considerations need to be put into perspective;

Innovation and the generational customer

The physical expansion should not stifle innovation and continual improvement of business processes. The challenge is to fuse secured reliability without losing dynamism.

The problem to anticipate the needs of the higher spending youth base should remain a top priority as you focus on retaining the current customer base as they age.

Organisational culture and ethical values

Social capital in business is a quantification of how people work together decently and how they treat the customers.

Business growth comes with a challenge of harmonising the founder’s belief system and the culture of the new space resulting from growth. Corporate culture might be the only differentiator between competitors and may cost and organisation a fortune once eroded.

It is advisable to subject the decision for expansion to a social capital lens; mitigation strategies should be thought well in advance.

The mall concept

Every corner of this country has a new mall and space is up for grabs, especially by banks and big retail shops followed by small players who hope that the mall will provide increased customer traffic.

It’s always good to remember that; every course has two sides; the sweet one and the side you never want to see.

Suppose for argument sake, one of the big shops closes down like it has happened to some grand installations in the recent past here in Kenya! Would your business command the same traction moving forward? If the case is different, another thought process should be engaged to mitigate such unforeseen limitations.

Don’t plug your growth to an expansion strategy of another firm you have not interrogated carefully.

Internet vs brick and mortar

Both platforms have their pros & cons and are also dependent on the nature of business. Cost-benefit for each option should be investigated before deciding on the way to go.

A blend of the two is desirable to present balanced organisational responsiveness to customer satisfaction.

Remember, a business has to show up in every single moment like it’s meant to be there, but it’s advisable to conquer each market at a time so that lessons learned in one environment becomes an input for the next phase.


The writer is a professional in leadership and risk management strategies

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