For small businesses, there’s a fine line between being recognised as an industry expert — and putting all your eggs in one basket. While specialising may help small businesses earn recognition for their expertise, if consumer needs change from that one area, that business could be looking at shutting its doors for good. So how can small businesses diversify while keeping their expert status? Here are five ideas.
Branch out to the same audience.
Offering multiple products to the same audience is a good idea for a number of different reasons. For one, your marketing efforts don’t have to change. And two, you can earn more money with your existing customer base. There are a number of different ways small businesses can reach the same audience with a different product. For example, print shops specialising in canvas wall art can also move to include other types of wall art — like custom framing or even prints on wood or glass.
Branch out with a similar product, but a different audience.
While offering a product with a similar audience is a good idea, that’s not the only way to diversify a small business. Many companies offer both high-end and lower-priced products, offering a similar product but to slightly different audiences. That same print shop, for example, could branch out beyond just wall art and offer printing for businesses such as flyers, or could branch out by offering a budget line of wall art products.
Think outside physical products.
Retail stores often think of expanding in terms of more physical products — but diversity can stretch beyond that. Many businesses find success by selling a service or electronic product that is related to their physical ones. That same print shop could offer in-home services to create a gallery wall, host a photography class, release a photography e-book or sell a unique photography app.
Open another location — or an online shop.
Putting your eggs all in one basket could still be referring to a physical space. Opening a second location allows small businesses to reach out to new areas.
Opening a physical shop requires a lot of expense, however, and some shops may expand by opening an online shop. Brick-and-motar businesses can expand by selling their products to a broader audience online, not limited by location. Consider directly opening an online store, or selling on existing platforms like eBay or Etsy.
Watch the trends.
Often, the businesses that succeed are the ones that look for the next trends. Hollywood Video is completely gone, while Netflix switched their through-the-mail DVD rentals to keep up with the latest trends. Keep your ears to the ground in your industry by following industry publications and making it a habit to chat with your customers and find out what they need or are looking for next.
Small businesses may be small in size, but that doesn’t mean they can’t diversify for a more stable future. By adding similar products, creating a budget version, expanding beyond physical products, opening new locations and watching the trends, small businesses can grow with the times instead of being stifled by them.