Many high-growth start-ups/SMEs face many challenges when starting to scale up their businesses, Andy Devaney, Business Growth Programme Manager at Liverpool City Region Local Growth Hub, gives some top tips to help businesses across the Liverpool City Region about to embark on their scale-up journey… According to recent research by accountancy firm RSM, Merseyside and the North West saw almost a 30% increase in the number of new digital and tech companies last year – the third highest number in the UK behind London and the South East. RSM technology lead Jonathan Lowe cites talent attracted by the region’s universities, momentum from success stories within the sector and accessibility of finance for growth as factors for the strong performance of the region’s tech businesses. But what can businesses themselves do to drive growth? Strategy Having a clear and robust strategy is important for any business, but particularly for tech businesses, for whom there is typically a lot of competition. There’s plenty of great guidance online for how to develop a business strategy from the likes of OnStrategy and Bplans, but the key to a good strategy is the quality of information that informs it. You need to really understand your business, your product and your market. If you realise there are gaps in your knowledge, don’t guess or make assumptions – research the information, speak to other businesses and seek guidance elsewhere. The extra time and effort could make all the difference. Targets Targets should provide focus for a business and give a realistic idea of what is achievable. They have to be rooted in a business’s strategy and, where possible, previous performance to be worthwhile, though. They can’t just be pulled out of thin air with a finger-to-the-wind estimate. Setting a target for a number of sales, for example, might be based on the number of sales calls made a day and the percentage of those that could be expected to convert. A subsequent revenue target could be based on this too. Always base your targets on logic, even though sometimes you might not have as much information as you’d like to set your targets. Your targets should also be SMART: Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-based Comms To grow a business, people need to know about it. And not just any people, but the right people. A business’s comms strategy is crucial to its success and there are a number of elements to consider when developing one: Goals: What do you want to achieve with your comms? This should be informed by the goals / targets in your business strategy. If you’ve targeted a number of sales in your business strategy, for example, you might need to work out how many leads you need to generate to make those sales. Personas: Who are the people who will buy your product? You need to understand who they are, what their professional lives are like, their goals, their challenges and the people, events and outlets from which they get their information. All this information can help you to speak to the right people, in the right way, in the right places and the right times. Positioning and messaging: What sets your product apart from others? Once you know the personas you’re targeting, you can identify the features that differentiate it from alternatives and are significant buying factors for your personas. Once you’ve identified your positioning, you can develop the key messaging with which to talk about your product. For advice on scaling up your businesses, contact your regional Local Growth Hub broker to find out the support available for your businesses.