I’ll have to be careful with this post because some business owners will think I’m giving some very poor and bad advice about growing a solo business.
Nonetheless, I need to warn you of a temptation that appears before almost every new business owner that gains some traction and realizes some measure of success in his solo business.
Here’s the temptation:
You create your business, carve out a niche in your market, and begin to develop a nice customer base.
Your business is growing and expanding and you begin to brainstorm ways to reach more customers and sell more products and services.
Your thinking is this: the easiest and simplest way to increase my bottom line revenue is to sell more products to more prospects.
Then you reason: I’ve got to expand into other areas in order to contact new customers and sell new products to my existing customers.
In order to do that, I’ve got to focus on new opportunities and niches so that I can add brand new prospects to my customer base.
Here’s the problem:
In your effort to grow and expand, the logical and easy solution is to broaden your company focus. Head off in new territory and find new prospects that your business has never contacted before.
In doing that, however, you risk changing your inherent company positioning and advantage in the niche where you’re currently having some success.
That refocusing is sometimes called business “drift.”
The problem with drift is that it often signals a change from profitability to business decline and sometimes total company collapse.
When a small solo company moves from a laser-targeted to a more comprehensive product line, it often loses the deep niche orientation it has built its current success on. Some would say this “transformation” is a positive thing.
It can be positive if you have exhausted your client prospect pool, or have no way of coming up with new related products on your own. But more often than not, losing your business focus that you’ve built up through the years can often lead to “plainness,” “sameness (as your competitors)”, and much more competition from others you formerly avoided (because of your narrow focus).
You can’t be all things to all people and compete like a Walmart in your niche. That’s not what solo businesses do best.
Now, don’t take me wrong. I’m not advocating that you never evaluate your business or look for new product opportunities or new ways to market what you’ve got. That’s really now what we’re talking about here.
But the companies that have deep, deep focus and renew themselves without broadening their focus, are the ones that will generally be the most successful, and hence, the most profitable.
The usual direction for success in this day and age is to go from broad to the very narrow markets. And often the cause of decline when a company is in a growth mode is that it leaves narrow markets and expands toward a broader focus. I hope that makes some sense to you.
Don’t drift into new waters where you have no experience or expertise.
Avoid the temptation to provide comprehensive and very broad product lines to your customers.
You’ll begin to lose your focus and you’ll likely have to compete against other more established businesses in these new markets.
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the hill! My recommendation is to dance with the partner that brought you to the dance in the first place – the idea and position your business has nurtured and perfected over the years.
To your online business success!