Are you a glutton for punishment? You’ve worked hard, built your business with sweat equity, sleepless nights, and occasional terror. Now you’ve got something stable. Finally! You are confident in your metrics, your people, your quality. And now, it’s not enough for you? You want to GROW? Look for a repeat of that gut-wrenching experience?
You’re certainly not alone. Growing a business is an intensely felt goal of most people. Increased impact, increased revenue, more jobs for more people, more personal satisfaction; all of those are worthy goals. So, the important thing is to approach your growth strategically and sensibly.
Fortunately, many different paths are available for taking your business to the next level. They vary in their likelihood of success, their difficulty, and their suitability for your company at its present stage. Most involve what Bain & Company calls adjacencies. It’s a similar concept to innovating close to home, a concept discussed here for a reminder.
In adjacency growth, you analyze many different vectors that branch off from your core business. Let’s look at just a few, all undertaken by the iconic Coca Cola Co. throughout the years of its growth.
Coca Cola was invented in 1886 by an Atlanta pharmacist, John Pemberton. (His partner, Frank Robinson is credited with the name and trademark.) When, in 1988 Pemberton sold his portion of the business to Asa Candler, Coca Cola explored its first growth opportunity, geographic expansion to other states.
Then, in 1894, Joseph Bierdenharn created the first bottling operation for Coca Cola in a business model expansion that move the product out from behind the pharmacy counter and into the broader world.
It wasn’t until 1940 that the company completed its first product expansion with Fanta orange soda. Twenty years later the company completed its first acquisition of the Minute Maid Company, which expanded the company beyond carbonated beverages to juices.
Ironically, it wasn’t until 1982 that Coke created its first line extension of the original product, launching Diet Coke. For many companies this might be the first avenue to explore.
Since that time, of course, the company has gone on to be an international behemoth, offering more than 3,500 different beverages in more than 200 countries.
Other ways to grow adjacently are to embark on vertical integration, where a company might move up or down the value chain, absorbing tasks of suppliers or retailers. Growth in the white spaces – innovation – is usually the hardest way to grow.
Which method is right for you? It depends on a variety of factors, which we will discuss in a later post. Just know that there are many proven methods for getting to enjoy more business success (and more sleepless nights)!