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Don't Go Chasing Unicorns: Concentrate On Creating The Right Connections

25/10/2016 14:04

This year, the UK is set to be home to around 600,000 new businesses. If the record numbers show us anything it is that businesses need to work harder to stand out from the crowd and this need is growing day by day.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you probably will have heard of Uber, Candy Crush, Deliveroo and maybe even Atom Bank. These companies are some of the most well-known tech start-ups who challenge the way the world does business. However, for every one of these so-called unicorns - a start-up company valued at over $1 billion - there's at least a hundred businesses that have failed to elevate a good idea into a strong business. And with figures from Fortune suggesting that nine out of 10 start-ups fail, it's clear that creating a future-proof business is not as straight forward as some companies would have you believe.

One of the key drivers for growth in any industry is the ability of its leadership team to forge relationships with likeminded businesses. Think of the public school network of old - it is frequently a question of who you know, not necessarily what you know. Larger organisations today represent the public school network of yesterday. The ability to tap into these networks can lead to a business-changing introduction that a company wouldn't be able to find anywhere else. Take WPP - Mindshare's parent company - for example. It works with some of the biggest brands across the globe and a carefully crafted hello will instantly change a company's scale. Aside from the ability to tap into networks, partnerships also create a level of credibility that enables businesses to scale with ease.

The need to facilitate hyper growth should never be the be-all and end-all. The trick is creating a service that people didn't realise they needed beforehand. Take Uber as an example. The business released figures showing $3.63 billion in booking revenue in the first half of 2015 alone. The figures are huge, and most market analysts wouldn't have been able to estimate the disruption and impact that one app would have on the global mobility landscape. One of the primary marketing tools that Uber used was discount codes for new customers. Although this approach won't be effective for every new business, it can be a great way to encourage customers to try a new service.

For customers, the increased focus on customer experience and disruption within the market is a real boon. Increased choice, lower prices and a better level of service are the hallmarks of a healthy industry. However, the sign of a good business is knowing who your customers are and how to reach them - another defining point between a unicorn's hyper growth and that of a failed start-up.

If a business is to scale quickly, it needs access to crucial audience data and insight, helping them map out and build a holistic picture of their customer base. What drives potential customers from awareness to consideration and how can it effectively influence the moment a purchase is contemplated? This is the big question that business bods need to crack. Businesses in the infancy of growth cannot afford failed experiments in media spend, and therefore every piece of insight is crucial to increasing its effectiveness at driving sales through the marketing mix.

Whichever path a business chooses; it needs to ensure that it is above all flexible. Old school organisations find pace and agility difficult to counter, and this is one of a start up's inherent advantages. When a gap in the market appears, they are quick to fill it. Both large organisations and start-ups can learn from each other's ideas, approach to business, connections, mentality and ways of working to create excellent working relationships. Now, which business wouldn't want that?

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