Lockers in a a changing room printed with bike graphics

Entrepreneurs –

Business growth: How diversifying can reap rewards

Paul Sumsion, Entrepreneurs Private Banker caught up with James Nash, co-founder of Bike Dock Solutions, Shelter Store and ActiveScore, to discuss business diversity and growth.

Businesses who spot an opportunity to capture a wider market are the ones who flourish. There is no bigger business diversification success than Amazon, who started as an online book seller and grew into the multi-billion giant it is today with services stretching from ecommerce and consumer electronics to airline (Amazon Air), cloud storage, movie studio, and much more.

But where do you start when thinking about diversification?


James Nash and co-founder Josh Coleman launched Bike Dock Solutions on the back of a university assignment in 2008. Bike Dock Solutions supplies and installs cycling parking products for a range of clients and the business has boomed, partly due to the ongoing popularity of cycling, and due to James and Josh’s attention to detail and really getting to know their customers.

“Our first big break came with local authorities such as various London Boroughs. These included London Boroughs of Havering, Newham, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forrest. From 2009-2012 they were all looking to make significant improvements to cycle parking infrastructure. These clients were extremely important in building credibility in the early years of the business.”

Relationships are important in business, and it is through building strong relationships with customers and wider stakeholders that James and Josh have gone on to launch a new venture. “Our end customers for Bike Dock Solutions are building owners and construction companies, but we found ourselves advising architects on best practice when it came to incorporating cycling parking in residential and commercial developments,” explains James.

A man wearing a bike helmet putting away a folding bike into a locker.

Expand through diversity

“Around five years ago, we were working with a client, a large commercial landlord, and discussed the idea of a certification in the property market that rates the cycling/active travel facilities of a development. This is comparable to what an office block would do for their broadband capabilities to make their property more attractive to potential tenants.” It was this, and similar conversations that led to the launch of ActiveScore.

ActiveScore provides an accreditation rating to buildings for their micro-mobility friendliness but will also work with architects and building owners to support initial design or redesign. This is a natural extension of their original business which meets more customer needs and supports customers throughout the whole process, rather than just one element.

“Many of our Bike Dock Solutions clients are architects who often want advice on designing active travel facilities. These same clients are very interested in getting their projects ActiveScore certified. It is only through really knowing our customers, understanding their needs and designing solutions which fit these needs that we’ve been able to build a complementary business.”

It’s a natural fit with Bike Dock Solutions and aligns with the company’s ethos and values while offering organic diversification from physical solutions.

James’ top tips for diversifying your business:

  • Ensure your new direction offers something complementary to your existing product suite or services
  • Consider if you are looking to enter a new market or if you are increasing your product range to the same market
  • Any new venture must align to your ethos and values – it is harder for a value brand to launch a luxury line
  • Know your market – do your research, review your competition and make sure you offer something which can stand out in the market
  • Get the right team around you – it is important to have cheerleaders, but also those who will question and challenge you. Be prepared to listen
  • Follow your passion. It’s infectious

If you are thinking about expanding your business and would like to understand how we can help you, speak to our Entrepreneurs team today.

If you are considering a business exit within the next few years, find out if you are ready. Take our survey or download our guide.

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Author -

Paul Sumsion

Paul Sumsion

Private Banker, Entrepreneurs Team

Paul supports entrepreneurial clients with their banking, lending, wealth planning and investment needs. He holds his Diploma in Financial Planning, Investment Management Certificate, and Certificate in Advanced Mortgage Advice. He has a particular interest in technology and has hosted bank events on the 4th Industrial Revolution and Blockchain.