The anatomy of a unicorn business and what you can learn from it (Part 1)

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Unicorn startups sound like a magical term – and it sort of is! Imagine a startup growing into a one-billion-dollar company without being listed on the stock market. 


An example of the biggest unicorn today? Bytedance. Yes, the company that developed TikTok and its Chinese counterpart, Douyin. 


There are also different names for different-sized unicorns! Bytedance is a hectocorn as it is valued at over $100 billion ($140 billion, if we want to get more specific). The other variant is called a ‘decacorn’, and a unicorn business is named so when it has a valuation of over $10 billion. 


“Does Malaysia have a unicorn company?”, you may ask. Well, yes! Carsome is the first and only unicorn company so far. Want yours to be the second? Read on!


  • Use disruptive innovation

Image: Monster Ztudi


Take Grab, for example. The great-grandfather of Anthony Tan, the CEO of Grab, was a taxi driver. Back in the day, taxis used to wait in high-demand areas or could be booked through a phone call. Now it is almost unheard of to get a ride that way. 


Anthony had his own father dumbfounded when he managed to create a taxi business without owning any cars. The game-changing idea wasn’t so much radical, but simple yet smart. 


  • Focus on customer-orientated marketing


Meet the customers’ needs first and foremost. Businesses that know their ultimate goal and have a well-established business plan allow them to be grounded in their work. Keep your customers at the core of your sales and marketing activities, and the highly successful conversion rates will follow. 


This doesn’t mean that you have to stop adapting to ever-changing customer trends. Be flexible, but keep your marketing directed at customer orientation. For example, Apple directs its designers to create something that they themselves would use instead of letting its techies lead its product innovation.


  • Prioritise technology-integrated business

Image: Jonas Leupe


Part of adapting to customer trends includes integrating technology into your business. Unless most of your customers do not use their phones for activities related to commerce, purchasing, and getting services, it is crucial to adapt to the times. 


Unicorn startups give priority to software and digitalisation technologies are at the heart of the business. According to Forbes, there are 4 ways you can integrate technology into your small business: provide contact information (through a simple business email), have an online presence, offer tech-based payment options, and use software (such as POS) that facilitates making business activities more efficient. 


Some key takeaways


The odds of a business becoming a unicorn are a mere 0.00006%.


While striving to be a unicorn business may be challenging in various ways, it is not entirely impossible. The evolving nature of the world often brings unexpected opportunities, and history has shown that good ideas and hard work are eventually rewarded.


If your goal is to grow your business, improve your sales forecast strategy and achieve unicorn status, it’s crucial to understand that the journey is difficult in many aspects. On the bright side, SalesWorks can help you navigate the daunting business world.


With over 25 years of industry experience and a presence in over 8 countries, SalesWorks provides all-encompassing services in sales activation, namely face-to-face marketing and sales. Globalise, build network and gain fast-growth strategies from our industry professionals.


Curious to learn more about how we can help? Just drop us a line through the contact form!


In the meantime, keep an eye out for part 2 of this topic!