Expand Your Small Business By Expanding Your Mind
One of the advantages small business have over larger companies is the ability to change direction, or expand directions “on a dime”. If you aren’t making changes, you are going to get buried by competitors you should be able to compete against using this innate advantage.
One way to expand your small business is to expand HOW YOU THINK about your business niche. Here’s how.
How To Redefine Your Business Niche/Purpose
Things often come down to how you define your business. If you define it by, let’s say, focusing on “the delivery of management training” as “what you do”, you are going to live in a box where all you think of doing is delivering that training. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a limiting focus.
It’s no different from every other business type. What you choose to sell, whether products or services, will come from your mental processes that define the business you are in. A narrow focus means narrow offering, and often, stagnation. A broadening focus means much wider but usually related offerings and more dynamic growth.
My Real Life Case Study In Brief
When I opened my “shop”, I decided I wanted to provide consulting and training to government in the area of Total Quality Management, which happened to be in vogue at the time. How’s that for a narrow focus.
It wasn’t surprising to find out that the field was competitive, and that getting business in that niche was an uphill slog.
I’d love to claim genius intuition, but I can’t. I kind of stumbled across things that “expanded my mind”, and stimulated growth of the business over 25 years.
I had a lot of spare time (though not spare money), so I decided to write a short book on performance management, and one on human resource development. Plus I created a newsletter distributed free to government managers and executives. That didn’t get me gigs for Total Quality Management, but it did create exposure, and I started making a shift towards offering training courses on dealing with angry customers for public sector. THAT created business.
So, I stumbled into redefining my business as a company that produced CONTENT for customers to help them succeed, a much more general and expanded view of my business. That was the huge step, the mind expansion.
I was in the writing business (content) and delivery of content (training, PLUS newsletters).
To keep this short, the process continued. I built a website, again, that free time thing, and for fun. I then became a website operator that opened up entirely different and lucrative means of making a living. And then I was offered my first book contract, the first of many published by McGraw-Hill.
Summary and Hints
Some days, I look back and consider myself lucky. But it wasn’t luck so much as creating situations where an expanded mind about my business made me able to create situations where I could grow in different, but related areas. Being in the right place at the right time isn’t really luck. It’s about being in a lot of places at a lot of different times.
- Try not to restrict yourself to any particular client group or demographic. It’s OK to specialize but be alert for opportunities outside of your target demographic.
- Look at related services and products that may be indirectly related to where your expertise lies, and that expand the scope of your business. Be careful not to throw everything in but the kitchen sink. Being too generalized is often a sign that you are desperate.
- Start expanding your business vision by focusing on customers or potential new customers.
- What do they want and need?
- Which of their problems can you solve with your existing skills that you hadn’t thought of.
- What new things can you learn to meet those needs?
- Keep your eyes and ears open.
- Customers will tell you if you listen.
- Run experiments. You need not commit your entire business to a new “side” area. Try it. See what happens.
Originally published at work911.com on August 27, 2018.