Staying relevant: Why identifying new business opportunities is key

Neil Littlewood

There’s so much more to running and maintaining a successful business than simply having a good product. To remain relevant in today’s ever-changing market, it's critical to regularly review your business in order to identify any new opportunities that may arise.

When you review your monthly reports, are you looking at how well your company performed or are you considering whether you should change tack? While most people concentrate on knocking the ball out of the park, it’s more effective to be thinking about what's next, what changes can be made. This doesn’t mean making a 180-degree turn, but rather adjusting your company’s suite of products as the market evolves.

Here are a few ways you can go about this:

The right team

The first step is to have a team with inquiring minds. It’s also important to foster an environment where people feel free to share their thoughts. No one in any company can have all the ideas. I'm a firm believer in employing good people who come from outside the industry, because they bring different disciplines and different practices to the business.  You also need to have subject matter experts and a devil's advocate on your team – someone who can give the hard honest truth when it’s needed. Looking for new opportunities is a continuous process and you have to be able to back your team to get behind it.

Identifying gaps and generating ideas

Next it’s about identifying where there may be gaps in the market or your product offering, and then determining the best ways to fill them. At Royal Wolf, we do this by holding Customer Days where we bring customers into all 40 of our branches across Australia and New Zealand and we ask them: “What can we do better? What products don’t we have?” If you ask 40 people, you'll end up with one or two gems. Another approach we have is to run an internal competition at least once a year. Some of the ideas that come out of that are quite left field. We then ask our staff what they think of the ideas before taking the concepts to our customers and developing a prototype.

Revise, revise, revise

Even once we have created a new product and put it out to the market, we will continue to refine it, often in response to feedback from our customers. A good example of this is our award-winning Wolf Lock, which makes opening and securing a container easier and safer. The Wolf Lock is now a mainstay product of ours and is in its third iteration. While all versions of the Wolf Lock remain in our fleet, a lot of the first edition ones are now used in our self-storage facilities. The idea to create these facilities themselves was another identified opportunity. It’s a way for us to maximise the use of the land that we've got and turn it into a potential growth corridor as our business expands.

Remember, if you're not inquisitive and you're not asking your customers what they're looking for, you will stand still. And, as they say in business: “If you're standing still, you're going backwards.”

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