As Australia’s Emma and Tom’s line of healthy juices and snacks grew in popularity, its operations started to become increasingly complex. As it confronted the promise of growth, it wanted to stay true to its mission – making fresh, healthy convenient food and drinks a part of Australian life, daily – while expanding access to its products supported by exceptional personalised customer service.

To decrease the complexity of its operations, it sought to automate and integrate its operational processes, and leverage technology that would enable end-to-end visibility of its business to drive customer-centric growth. It implemented the JCurve edition* of NetSuite to automate finance and supply chain processes – including managing 40 distribution vans that deliver to more than 3,000 retail outlets and cafes across the continent. The flexibility and agility of cloud-based software enables it to scale its business to add new locations and trucks with ease, empowering growth at 30 percent per annum.

Most Australian small businesses would like to emulate the success of companies like Emma and Tom’s by growing their operations, but at the same time, are mindful not to jeopardise their close relationships with customers.

How can small businesses empower growth, but maintain brand loyalty? There are four tactics that smaller companies can leverage to ensure that they achieve their business objectives whilst retaining a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

1. Define purpose and fuel organic growth 

Businesses must start with defining their purpose, and how their current brand proposition fits into their expansion plans. Once everyone is on board, there are some short-term, organic growth boosters to pursue. For instance, businesses can start by trimming overhead and boosting sales to existing customers through cross sell and upsell opportunities.

2. Forge strong partnerships 

Another very good option for gaining market share without risking capital is forging partnerships with larger companies. This offers immediate access to existing retail networks, supply chains and a well-established customer base. The most successful partnerships take into account branding, cross-selling and exclusivity arrangements – to negotiate for full control over logistics, staffing and other customer service essentials. Every partnership should seek to maintain control over brand identity while minimising complexity.

3. Standardise processes and centralise on a platform 

Expansion comes with a host of unknowns. Where will you find staff? What are the new regulations and laws? How can I create desire for our product so customers want it? Previously, ERP and SCM systems were only in reach of the biggest companies, however, the cloud has democratised access, and given small businesses a leg up on much larger competitors held back by legacy on-premise systems.

When it comes time to expand, having standardised processes on a cloud-based platform allows you to run your processes the same way, regardless of where business is located. It provides best practices for repeatable infrastructure when entering new markets, as well as end-to-end visibility across operations.

Cloud-based software, with its scalability, agility and low total cost of ownership, empowers businesses to manage growth on their own terms. By automating tedious manual tasks like tax compliance, multi-currency transactions, and more, it eases some major barriers to entering international markets. **Half of Australian businesses that use cloud have expanded overseas in the past five years compared to 13 percent of those who do not.

4. Leverage data 

With end-to-end visibility across operations, executives have easy access to data to make insight-driven business decisions on how and where to grow. For instance, robust reporting allows you to regularly compare financial data from different stores or channels to identify trends that might impact long-term growth, such as cash flow or liquidity. Data from the ERP and supply chain platforms can help drive actionable sales opportunities, personalise marketing outreach to drive greater loyalty from customers, and increase customer satisfaction by ensuring accurate inventory levels and streamlining logistics.

With a cloud-based platform as their foundation, new product introduction and international growth is within the reach of small businesses, which can leverage technology to out-innovate much larger competitors.

For more tips on empowering small business growth, check out our whitepaper, “The Small Business Growth Playbook.”

*JCurve edition of NetSuite –allows emerging and growing businesses to run their entire business on an all-in-one cloud ERP, bringing together inventory management, financials, CRM, sales and more.

**Frost & Sullivan Research – Born In The Cloud, Four Big Growth Opportunities for Small Businesses in Asia-Pacific.