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Local leadership

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Many regional businesses overlook their key strength – locality. Yes, being an effective leader means rising above restrictions and barriers, whether they be financial, social or even geographical, to push your team to excellence – but for many in regional businesses this can prove quite the challenge. Access to resources, suppliers or products can be limited, when compared to businesses in the big city and the international arena.

The key is to play to your strengths. Show your customers – both existing and potential ones – that yours is a leading business in your locality. Entrench your business in the community as much as possible, exploit all accessible resources and, remember, exposure is critical. Once you’ve leveraged your position in the local market, there will be no limits to growing your business beyond your postcode.

Start locally, think globally

As a leader, it’s up to you to maximise your business’ potential. There’s no better way to do this than to exploit the market in which the business is imbedded – remember, locality can prove a strength. So, how can you play to your strengths?  

Build strong local relationships

Mark Turnbull, managing director of Horizon Financial, a successful brokerage in Cairns, says this has worked wonders for his business.

He has focused his attention on building strong local relationships to boost his business, such as with a local housing alliance.

Have a strong presence in the community
Visibility, says Turnbull, is crucial.

“The market was really booming and we were doing a lot of commercial business for clients so we made the decision that we had to buy our own premises,” he says. “We got a fantastic position on the corner of the main road in Cairns and haven’t looked back.”

Build value in your business

Yahava Koffeeworks, in the Margaret River region in Western Australia, also looked to build value locally to up the business’ profile. Situated in the hub of Western Australia’s wine tourism region, Alex Kok, Yahava’s founder, turned a humble coffee roasting and retail business into a tourist destination, offering visitors access to the manufacturing component, barista courses and, for the true coffee lover, extensive coffee-tasting.

Grow, grow, grow!

Turnbull says his local business success has proven a good barometer and is now confident he can replicate the business processes in other regions and states.

“We’re looking at purchasing other loan books in other cities and then just picking up the entire process we’ve got here and implementing that into another business, whether that be Townsville or the Sunshine Coast,” he says.

Likewise, Kok and co-owner John Batty have an aggressive expansion strategy in mind for the future of Yahava. Since its inception in 2001, the business has already grown to encompass two retail outlets, a wholesale unit and an online mail order business (this grew 30 per cent over the last financial year!).

Local talent – overcoming obstacles to success

As in any other business, there will be obstacles to growth. The trick is to identify them early and devise strategies to conquer these.

Start with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and compensate for any weaknesses or threats by focusing on your strengths and opportunities.

To compensate for the lack of growth in the market, Turnbull focused on the one thing he identifies as the business’ major strength – its service.

“If you do the right thing by the client, then you’ll always be busy,” he says. “That is what I’ve said to all of our staff, they know that back to front … I think it’s a long-term view that if you do the right thing, you’ll always be busy.”

As a leader, the solution may be to identify different opportunities within the market for your business to prosper. This may include diversification into new income streams, such as adding new products or services to your offerings.

Six simple steps to local leadership success

  • Build strong relationships – establish long-term relationships with suppliers and clients in the local area to boost business exposure and demand.
  • Create presence – gain exposure in the local market through a strong physical and community presence. For example, get involved in community events to entrench the business within the local area.
  • Build value – expand and diversify the business. Create an invaluable offering that draws customers to you.
  • Grow the business – once you’ve conquered the local market, look at growth outside your locality. Remember, businesses should never be limited by their location.
  • Do a SWOT – determine the business’ (and your) strengths and weaknesses and focus on what makes you unique.
  • Finally, remember that leadership, essentially, is steering the business in the right direction. Play to your business strengths and make smart business decisions.

So, if you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Tuesday, June 08, 2010

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