Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Winning New Markets

Winning new markets is all about innovative and strategic thinking. It’s obvious to look at what your competitors are doing, but do you also know what your business’ substitutes sectors are? You understand who you are selling to, but have you also explored across the chain of buyers?

Back in 2011, UK’ biggest book retailer was struggling to keep its head up, drowning in the sea of defeated sales and entering the blackhole of bankruptcy, until something happened.

James Daunt, an investment banking professional, owner of Daunt books then took charge of the book retailer chain and rewrote the story of Waterstones’ success.

What did he do to combat bankruptcy and how did he do it?

Along with several changes as small as the presentation of a bookshelf and as big and complex as rethinking the business model and cutting head office cost; Waterstones was competing with the then-emerging phenomena of eBooks readership. As the eBook sales were soaring, the physical books sales were dropping. It is then Daunt identified an untapped market which was looking across complimentary products and services.

This untapped market was comprised of cafegoers and coffee-drinkers.

So, Daunt focused on opening their own independent-looking cafés and kissed-goodbye to costa. This alone has attracted a big and consistent influx of people into their bookstores and saved Waterstones from the brink of bankruptcy. In the last decade, Waterstones has expanded to over 300 bookstores and hundreds of its own cafes. This has been an important yet un-highlighted strategic offerings of food and beverages of Waterstones.

There were questions which required innovative solutions.

How can we bring a potential buyer inside the bookshop who wouldn’t normally go? Rethinking ways to get to customers.

Who is our customer? Reimagining the potential target market.


How can we add value to existing visitors who are buying our books but due to an added value, they would be willing to spend more, buy more, connect more? Looking across the emotional appeal to buyers.

The famous high street book retailer has also opened several independent bookshops without using its branding to expand its target market from book-buyers to small and independent bookshop supportive buyers. It has expanded dramatically and has also gone international.

So now the questions for you being an SME leader,

Where is your business standing?

Have you explored creating a new market for your business?

Learn more about internationalisation and winning new markets in our Module 3.


Good Friction vs Bad Friction


The very sound of it says stop, re-evaluate, reimagine.

Like Yin and Yang, opposite but inter-connected forces, friction can disrupt and change the direction of a workflow, business-relationships, and balance sheets. Strong leaderships know how to spot it, when to use it and which one to use. But despite all the intended goodwill and a claimed good strategy, business leaders often overlook it and misuse it.

So, what really is a good friction?

How can you spot it?

How can you introduce it?

And last but importantly,

How can you use it to fix the potholes of low performance, disengaged teams or a bad sales month for instance?

Good friction is a deliberate intervention means to help your taskforces, your clients and your stakeholders move towards a happier work culture and stronger businesses. As soon you identify the gaps and disengagements in processes, you gently but firmly create a friction and make a space for changed systems to come alive. This might bring discomfort at first, but once you hit at the right spot, it creates ripples affect. For example, if delays are seen in a project delivery due to lengthy chain of bureaucracy.  Why don’t you enable easy, quick and autonomous pathway of decision making to have engaged, confident and happier workforce?

Think about the problem and ask yourself how I can help.

Now bad business leaders, use friction to exercise their authority, mask their incompetence or use it as a coping mechanism to hide from their own burning out and workload. Instead of incorporating agile processes, they use complex ones; instead of enabling an agency of working well and feeling good to have well-built clientele and a sturdy business, they insist on deploying rigid and tiresome processes.

Choose your friction wisely and choose it empathetically.