Leveraging Expo 2020 Dubai to grow and scale
Rushika Bhatia
10x Industry

Leveraging Expo 2020 Dubai to grow and scale

How can your SME start preparing to capture opportunities in a thriving year? Here are some top tips to consider.

1. Enhance your digital capabilities: We’ve said this several times, but it’s really something that needs to be emphasised. Technology is a great enabler of growth; it can help your business boost productivity and scale up. Digital marketing, for instance, is a great way to make inroads into new markets. It enables you to reach a wider audience, without bearing the costs of physically being there. Data analytics is another area to consider investing your time and effort. Whether it’s tracking in real-time or simply monitoring internal organisational processes, digital technology is useful in improving your business.

2. Diversify your product portfolio: With all eyes on Expo 2020 for new ideas, concepts and technologies, there’s no better time to launch fresh product lines. Undertake research that will help you identify new areas of opportunities. Consider the amount of time you will require for regulatory approvals, product testing and initial marketing.

3. Develop an innovation mindset: Be proactive in terms of leading a cultural transformation within your business. The digital era we live in revolves around automation, innovation and online platforms. In order to capitalise on this changing landscape, your business will need to rehash its business model, improve staff skills and encourage innovation. And, it’s not just about technology. It’s more about changing the mindset of your business.

4. Explore new markets: Expo 2020 is attracting 192 countries, top global companies and many local businesses. This provides SMEs with an opportunity to widen their horizons. Entering bigger markets is naturally an important aspect of the growth of a business. Even if that’s not our business priority, it’s still an opportunity to increase your brand awareness and credibility.. But for businesses that are looking regional and international expansion, refined marketing strategies will be the key.

5. Encourage learning and training: This factor is something that wouldn’t necessarily be on your agenda when thinking of Expo 2020. However, given the scale and approach of the event, it’s important to ensure your employees have skills that are relevant. To achieve this, organise tech-enabled learning and training sessions on a regular basis. Investing in training makes more sense that having to hire new employees with updated skills.

6. Focus on customer service: The consumer demands are continually evolving and your business needs to constantly find ways to give them a better experience – especially when competing in an environment such as Expo 2020. Your product and the way you market will help you attract customers. But, good service is what will keep them coming back. Today, quality service is not just about meeting customer needs, it’s about exceeding their expectations. To achieve this, your business will need to adopt a holistic approach.

This means not just training frontline staff, but also improving your overall brand strategy and product quality. "Memberships, loyalty programs and purchase incentives must become an indispensable component of the customer journey,” quips Sean Flaherty of UPS in his online commentary piece. He adds: “Consumers enjoy feeling special. A fee-based membership program can build a sense of exclusivity among consumers thanks to free or expedited shipping, free returns, discounts and exclusive offers. Memberships grow business revenues through fees, as well as consumers motivated to make purchases because of membership perks.”

7. Build partnerships that enable growth: Don’t be afraid to partner with bigger enterprises or government entities to open new avenues of growth. They can inject funding at different stages of your business, while you provide their network with innovative solutions.

8. Have a strategy for financial stability: Always have a back-up plan. With competition intensifying and technology rapidly advancing, you never know what’s around the corner. It’s important for your business to not just adapt to market changes as they happen, but to anticipate them. Forecast risks and be ready to adjust your resources according to the dynamic market conditions. Effective cash management and proper usage of your working capital is also critical. Financial stability is the foundation for long-term business survival. If you think you aren’t fully equipped to manage this internally, seek external assistance.

9. Widen your investor network: There are a lot of platforms available today that match you to a network of accredited investors that are interested in high-growth companies. You can also research regional VCs – and pitch for secondary funding. Adding on investors that identify the potential of your company will boost your confidence. But, that’s not all. It could give you additional funds to aggressively market your product across new markets or verticals that might open up through Expo 2020. It’s important for your business to not just adapt to market changes as they happen, but to anticipate them.