How small companies suddenly transform into global players

How small companies suddenly transform into global players

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How can a small enterprise grow into a fast-moving global player, doing business across Europe, the Middle East, Russia and Brazil? As one family company discovered, it’s about much more than having a website in different languages. Deeper changes make all the difference.

Founded in 1992 and based near Napoli, Megatron Sensors (Megatron Srl) designs and manufactures temperature sensors for coffee, vending and slush machines; boilers, HVAC, refrigeration and temperature control systems; food and medical equipment.

The family-owned company and its 10 employees were turning over a healthy €1.5M per year. But new CEO Luca Grimaldi recognised that revenues had flattened out and the firm needed to sell beyond Italy. Megatron knew that expansion was about more than simply winning international orders. For growth to be sustainable, the company needed to become more flexible, scalable, streamlined and focused.

Working with pan-European business expansion experts Eggcelerate, the Megatron team made key changes in four areas:

Go-to-market strategy: The company added a new Product Management function and restructured its marketing and sales capability, so any new products could be brought to market in a way that focused on customer benefits, not product features.

Customer Experience: How would Megatron cope if business took off massively in multiple countries? To address this, the company introduced new customer relationship software and management tools helped to streamline business processes, so the team could deliver a great customer experience and cope with a surge in demand.

Tracking & Reporting: If Megatron grew quickly, there was a danger that the business could become a victim of its own success. But a managerial reporting system enabled CEO Luca Grimaldi and his colleagues to spot logjams and other problems early. So if extra workers or equipment was needed, they’d know exactly where to put them.

People & Change: In many respects, Megatron needed to become a new company — and so it updated its vision, mission and values, translating these into clear objectives. Luca’s team also introduced a performance evaluation system to help everyone to stay focused on the tasks ahead.

What happened next?

With these fundamentals sorted, Megatron re-branded itself, launched a new website in six languages and crafted a company presentation to pitch to prospects world-wide.

The approach worked. Revenue grew by 40%, thanks to new international clients. A sales pipeline of €350,000 took shape within two months. And the company achieved a 10% gross margin increase on its international sales.

Crucially, growth is sustainable. New orders haven’t caused the company to over-promise, over-extend and overheat. Instead, Megatron has been able to play in the global league by thinking in a different way about its own company, its products and its customers.

CEO Luca Grimaldi says: “We knew where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to achieve. This gave us all a new mindset, and eased the discussions with international prospects – many of which are much bigger than Megatron. Most of them are now our best clients.”

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What’s the secret sauce for business growth?

What’s the secret sauce for business growth?

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Sooner or later, most small or medium-sized companies reach a major crossroads. Business has been good in previous years — but how do you take things to the next level? Is there one change you can make to guarantee successful growth?

I’ve worked with firms across Europe in different sectors, from manufacturing to maritime, IT to financial services. Some companies were historic family businesses, while others were maturing companies or ambitious start-ups.

Each grew. Some spectacularly. But the answer wasn’t one thing, it was four things, which I call the key ingredients for growth.

Ingredient #1: How you bring products to market
Some companies had successful products or services. New ones were being launched. But what looked exciting at the ‘engineering’ stage failed to translate into sales. The breakthrough came when we adapted the proposition. In many cases, we turned dry product features into mouth-watering product benefits that connected with customer needs. The marketing spark returned, the audience ‘got it’ and sales lit up.

Ingredient #2: How customers do business with you
Sometimes you’re so close to your own business, so familiar with its quirks and nuances, that you don’t realise how ‘doing business’ feels from the customers’ perspective. But what if there’s something going wrong at the process level and you’re missing it? Most times, it takes someone from the outside to see what’s going adrift in the customer journey — and help you fix it.

Ingredient #3: How you track and report key information
Do you want customers to tell you when problems exist — or do you want to fix them before anyone notices? Placing key performance indicators at strategic points across your business will tell you where today’s logjams and other issues need attention. This can be the secret to unlocking productivity, being able to scale up rapidly, and where to spend most effectively.

Ingredient #4: Refreshing your vision and team
Most of my clients’ success has been due to the talent of their people. But sometimes a great team starts to misfire, people clash and effort is wasted. The answer is to refresh your company vision, mission and values — turning this into objectives, deadlines and priorities. Then get everyone to align behind your common goal, so they can move ahead confidently. If they refuse, then maybe your company isn’t the best place for them — and a few new faces could improve everything?

Oops. We missed something.
What I’ve described might sound like a shopping list for growth success. But you probably need a business expansion expert (rather like a chef!) to add more some ingredients and less of others — and then to mix them into a winning recipe!

Finally, there’s one extra ingredient we haven’t mentioned. And nobody can have it but you. It’s whether you have the right mindset to grow. Are you ready for change — and do you have the drive and determination to see it through? Only then will your vision take shape.


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Three things IoT must do to get beyond the hype

Three things IoT must do to get beyond the hype

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How many times have you heard that the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be epic – with billions of connected devices generating trillions of dollars? And yet, the overwhelming reaction of tech consumers right now is essentially “meh”.

Just recently, I moderated a roundtable discussion at the Milan Disruptive Week, on the subject of “Investing in IoT”. We talked about emerging sectors, key success factors and open innovation strategies. But it was my three-year-old daughter that got me involved with IoT on a personal level.

This wasn’t because she’s a genius (though I like to think she is) but because we bought a baby monitor for her. I then discovered the manufacturer, Withings, has been acquired by Nokia as part of its strategy to consolidate its position in the IoT industry. So now I can “live the dream” of IoT next time my little girl wakes at 2am.

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