Customer referrals can be an effective way to tap into your current customer base and explore new revenue streams. Roku, a Saratoga, California-based company that makes a device that allows users to stream media to their televisions, understands this concept. Last year, the company introduced a refer-a-friend campaign where, for every friend you refer, your friend gets the lowest price on a Roku player and you get a free month of Netflix. "We knew we had an engaged customer base that was passionate about the product, and we wanted to tap into that," Lomit Patel, Roku's senior director of direct marketing, told Inc. magazine.
"As organizations grow increasingly complex, duties and responsibilities across the workforce can become less well defined," writes Robert Heller in How to Delegate. "Often it seems as though everyone is doing everyone else's job. Delegation is the manager’s key to efficiency, and benefits all." In other words, in order to scale the business, a CEO needs to learn how to delegate so he or she can focus on the company's bigger picture issues.
Innovative companies understand that in order to grow, they must continue to develop new products and services. "No executive today is unaware of the strategic need for winning new products," writes Robert G. Cooper in his book, Product Leadership: Creating and Launching Superior New Products. "And so the pressure is on virtually every leadership team to deliver great new products. The new corporate motto is 'innovate or die.'"
The Obama administration has advocated for small businesses to push into global markets, and has set the goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2014. Today, only about one percent of small businesses export overseas. One of the biggest challenges for small companies wanting to export is communication, says Marc Meyer, a professor of entrepreneurship at Northeastern University. This is especially true in emerging markets like China where little is known about marketing and consumer culture. "These countries are fundamentally different from Western Europe and you need to go there and do your homework—learning the local selling culture, how your product will be sold and merchandised," he says.
If too much of your time is being spent on tasks that could be automated, it pays to figure out a technological solution. Technology can empower your organization, helping you improve efficiencies and even expand operations," says Mike Gorsage, a partner and technology practice leader for Tatum. "But to use that technology well, you must balance your needs with the realities of how you do business. That means understanding not only which technology to invest in, but also how it will affect your operations and how to maximize your returns on that investment." —Eric Markowitz