Diversification is a powerful word, but to a small business the word alone may bring the fear of uncertainty. My simple definition of diversification is to “spread out”, to try something different, (stepping outside the box) or getting out of one’s comfort zone, in every aspect of your business.
Our business culture is to develop a way of doing something and then sticking with that method. I encourage diversification for the small business in the following areas and for the following reasons:
- Business planning: Having a workable business plan is a basic building block for growth. It has become such a “basic” building block that almost all business plans offer the same steps; each business plan author embellishes what has been done before and puts forth the same exact product. A business plan should not be judged by the number of pages it contains, but by the process used in its development.
- Marketing planning: Much like the development of a business plan, a marketing plan has to be designed to fit the needs of the business. Unfortunately, many of the marketing plans I have seen work in reverse. The marketing plan outline is taken off a shelf and then the business marketing is made to fit in the outline.
- Products and services: Yes, many small businesses start with one central idea. However, the old theory of “putting all your eggs in one basket and watching the basket” may not be effective in today’s world. What if your eggs are no longer in demand? Do you close your business? Diversification makes you think of other revenue options. They may be related in some fashion to your current products or services or something entirely new.
- Staffing: Even a small business needs to hire an employee. An employee should not be hired to fit into a preconceived mold, but should have a similar value system yet is able to come to a business and bring innovations to improve the business.
- Office/store location: Be different as much as your budget allows. Your office, at least on the inside, should “speak” loudly about you and your business. Don’t impress your clients by furniture and colors that don’t tell your story.
Diversification continues with the people with whom you associate. Reach out and share your story with people you don’t know. Meet new people, get involved in new activities, examine every aspect of your business life and see how you can diversify.
They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
Nick J. Petra CFP It’s not too late receive a copy of my marketing plan. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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