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10 Small Businesses that Made It Big

by Jake Martin

4 min read

International business success is by no means easy, but it is possible. Here are 10 companies that started as small businesses and used unique growth strategies to make it big, and gain worldwide recognition.

1. Canva

Since the online graphic design startup launched in 2013, more than 52 million designs have been created on Canva’s platform. By recognising a gap in the market, Canva was able to capitalise on the need for an easy-to-use and intuitive graphic design website.

Last year, the company turned a corner, securing $21 million in funding to take its funds to almost $28 million. 

The small business, started by three Australian owners, now has a global user-base of around seven million.

2. Sendle

Sendle is an Australian delivery startup company that made it big by closing a $1.8 million funding deal in 2015 – one million of which was money invested by NRMA so the service could be provided to its members.

The company differentiates itself by tapping into the existing delivery network and offering door-to-door courier services for small businesses at a flat rate that’s cheaper than Australia Post.

Sendle recently partnered with courier companies Fastway and Couriers Please, and logistics giant Toll, to make parcel delivery easier and faster.

3. Biteable 

This Australian video startup was established in 2014 to provide businesses with an opportunity to create professional videos and online animations in minutes.

Biteable developed a product for businesses that want to use video to showcase their product and services without incurring the high costs traditionally charged by digital agencies.

Since its launch, the Tasmanian company has attracted more than 90,000 people to use its innovative tool, with more 100,000 videos made.

4. The Body Shop

This beauty product company, founded in 1976, was one of the first of its kind to ban animal testing from its goods line and became famous for promoting the idea of fair trade with developing countries.

The Body Shop was able to use increasing consumer awareness about animal testing and fair trade to grow its business.

The brand, which now has around 2000 stores worldwide, has an estimated annual turnover of $24.7 billion.

5. Shippit

Sydney startup Shippit is another small software company making it big by tapping into the nationwide parcel delivery service.

Shippit’s main selling point is to offer better services to buyers and suppliers involved in online transactions than are available elsewhere.

The small company recently turned big by partnering with large brands like Australia Post, TNT and Mail Call Couriers.

6. Stylerunner

This small Australian e-commerce startup, founded in 2012, has grown so successfully that its CEO, Julie Stevanja, was named the Young Retail Entrepreneur of the Year at the World Retail Awards this year.

Julie says that the company has been able to capitalise on securing online distribution rights to some of the world’s leading activewear brands by having a solid business plan – that was built on a presentation of what the site would be even before it was live, what brands they wanted, the services they’d offer and how the site would be different from anything else. 

According to Power Retail, the activewear brand has demonstrated triple-digit year-on-year growth. It’s now looking to expand into China, America and Europe.

7. Apple

Needless to say, Apple Inc. is a multinational personal computer, software and electronics corporation that started very small with the first Apple computer in 1976.

With an estimated value of US$530 billion as of February 2016, Apple’s success can be attributed to its user-friendly products, from its simple and intuitive design to great in-store experiences and customer service.

8. Airtasker

The idea behind Airtasker, an online outsourcing service, is to match skilled people with home or office tasks that need to be done. Airtasker’s business model is based on the idea of collaborative consumption, whereby community members share resources directly with each other, cutting out overheads and in theory reducing cost.

Airtasker’s Australian creators made the business grow by raising around $1.5 million two months after it launched in 2012.

It immediately began expanding to cater for both businesses and individuals, and later acquired its rival company TaskBox.

9. Boost Juice

If you’ve ever watched the Channel Ten television hit Shark Tank, you’ll know that entrepreneur Janine Allis made it big by turning Boost Juice from a small juice and smoothies business into a large international company.

Allis recognised the rise of health-conscious consumers and the demand for convenient and healthy snacks. Allis was able to capitalise on this trend, and grow her business from one Adelaide store to hundreds throughout Australia and across the globe.

10. Nike

USA Today reports that two $500 investments in 1971 started the international shoe and apparel brand known as Nike Inc.

Nike was able to grow from a small business into a large corporation by creating a sports brand rooted in both authentic sports and pop culture. Nike not only creates quality products, memorable marketing campaigns but has established a culture and lifestyle that comes with wearing the brand. 

The company was estimated to be worth $30.6 billion in 2015.

Making the jump from small business to large enterprise is no mean feat. If you’re looking to expand your venture, take inspiration from these businesses and learn how you can do the same.

To view more articles relevant for Small Business Owners, visit here.

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