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You know what happens if you don’t grow your business. You join the Dodo Club, with notable members that include Blockbuster, Polaroid, Toys R Us, Compaq and Kodak. What do they all have in common, apart from no longer being in business? They had no strategy for a rapidly changing retail environment. They fiddled while Rome burned, just as Nero did. So how did some businesses fail while others went stratospheric?

  1. Reed Hastings, CEO Netflix. Aside from piggybacking on existing technology to transform the original DVD rental business to an online streaming platform which allowed members easier access to a plethora of films, Hastings’ and Netflix’ aggressive data mining of subscribers destroyed the opposition. While traditional entertainment companies relied on third-party research agencies to provide data, Netflix got to know its customers intimately by paying ultra-close attention to their behaviour.
  2. Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon. There are a dozen growth strategies you could copy from this company, but you might miss one of the most obvious, one which also makes the most sense. Bezos aimed to become the most customer-centric company in the world by providing world-class customer service, which has subsequently won multiple awards. How can you grow a business if your existing customers aren’t happy?
  3. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, founders Airbnb. This company has come a long way from two friends who bought air mattresses for paying guests to sleep on as a means to pay the rent for their apartment. Embracing the trend for market disruption to grow their business, it took only ten years for these two entrepreneurs to create a company that today has been valued at US$31 billion and still has no plans to go public.
  4. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, founders Uber. Through creating value both in terms of efficiency and cost sharing, they made the simple task of getting from A to B for Uber users hassle free. They also took advantage of what is called a ‘two-sided’ economy through Uber drivers meeting the needs of Uber users, to become the world’s largest ‘taxi company’ without owning a single taxi!
  5. James Watt and Martin Dickie (plus one dog), founders of Brewdog. You may wonder why two people and a dog you have never heard of appear on this list of ‘innovative giants’. As business pioneers, they deserve their place as within two year of starting their independent brewing company in Scotland, they had become the fastest-growing alternative beer brand in the UK. How did they achieve such rapid growth? Equity crowdfunding, and in 2015 it had become the largest crowdfunding scheme in history with 32,000 independent shareholders! That’s how you turn a business model on its head…

In short, don’t think outside the box, don’t even have a box in the first place…

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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