Perhaps it is the economy, or perhaps it is the change in the weather, but I seem to be spending more of my time lately, counseling entrepreneurs on ways they can get through a transition in their existing business. Some want to add a product or service, which is a common issue. Some, however, realize they’ve grown, opportunities have emerged or been discovered, or their existing market has changed. Others simply want to be happier in what they do, or aspire to reach a new level.
Here are some basic tips I suggest in looking at such a potential transition in your business.
Determine where you want to go with your business, considering:
∙ what you’re good at
∙ what you want to spend the majority of your business time on (do what you love because you’ll be doing a lot of it and your long term enthusiasm is essential)
∙ what will be needed (ex. relieve customer pain or provide something they can easily understand is faster, cheaper, more convenient, longer lasting, etc.)
∙ what will provide an opportunity for you for the period of time you will be working on it (i.e. how long do you plan to be doing this?)
∙ what customers will pay for (a great product or service that customers won’t buy is not necessarily a “great product.”)
∙ something at which you can develop a sustainable competitive advantage and distinguish yourself from others (i.e. barrier to entry)
∙ a business you can sell when you’re done or use as a foundation for others, such as family, employees, etc.
Determine who your preferred client is and:
∙ who makes the decisions on spending money on businesses, products, or services like yours
∙ what the decision makers’ criteria are for spending money on a business like yours
∙ where and how the decision makers look for vendors of your product or service
∙ how they perceive the need for your service or product (i.e. what do they think they need)
∙ who they are currently using to fulfill this need
∙ how you can serve them better and justify the distinction between your product or service (or bundle) and what they are getting now
Make sure your product, service, or bundle meets the “sniff test,” in terms of quality, ability to scale to quantity, price, distribution, service, and any other criteria the customer will likely expect.
Make sure your marketing material will support your claims for the new business.
Market for what and where you want to be, as opposed to what and where you are, if you are attempting a transition, expansion, etc.
Form alliances with those who are already selling to your preferred future customers, proving to them that they can benefit from selling your business with theirs.
Be in front of your decision makers in any way that will demonstrate you are knowledgeable, capable, and a “player’ in the space where their needs are fulfilled.
Join the Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn. Membership is free and I try to post about ten articles a day there. We have some great discussions going and if you are an entrepreneur, we hope you will join us.