Diversify your skill set or perish

Roger Glasel, Troy Media Corporation
Tags: business management

Imagine this; you stumble into your favorite coffee shop Monday morning and find only one kind of coffee or muffin available for sale. Or only one car with only one dealership? Doesn’t sound feasible or sustainable does it? Any consumer would be unsatisfied instantly.

Many recent experiences I have had with businesses in my local area are pointing to an alarming trend. Each of these entrepreneurs is launching a business with only one sell ... one product ... one service. Do I have to tell you how dangerous this is?

Helping your clients
To ensure you don’t fall into this trap you need to diversify your skill set to more than one sell. You need to find a number of areas within your area of expertise that will help your clients solve their business problems. Don’t try to make up a problem which can only be solved with your product. Many of you know what I mean.

Common sense, right?

Take any standard business, from a telco to a computer software company, and you will be hard pressed to find one that does just one thing. Of course, you could get lucky, and be the only one around to invent a teleporter, but how likely is that? If you are a one-sell business, the chances are you will perish within months.

Banks should be forewarned as well. In one instance I know of, a bank had no problem lending a new business a full line of credit using their property as collateral. But after two years of endeavor, the business still had only one product sell. KAPUT.

Here are some suggestions to become more stable from a business perspective. These suggestions apply to big business as well as small ones. Personally, I’d like to see more Apple’s out there!

1) You must always strive to be innovative! What can you constantly do within your business to improve that will positively impact your customer base.

2) Sales testing – extremely critical! You need to be honest with yourself before becoming a business owner and investing your time and capital. One of the best ways of doing this is to test if your idea/product/service is needed in the market. You may be surprised with the results. Even big business is starting to trench down the road of a mile wide, and an inch deep. This is also very dangerous territory for your brand and shareholders so stay focused!

3) Get some business training! You need to also understand business fundamentals like how to scale for growth, manage your accounts receivables, payables, etc. In the beginning, you will wear all the hats to get your business started.

4) Watch the market! I’m not talking about the stock market here but your potential client base. Entrench yourself within it by joining local focus groups in your particular area of expertise. I cannot stress enough that joining your local Chamber of Commerce is not enough. Network! Not only will this lead to new opportunities, but it can lead to innovation if a good idea is sparked.

5) Don’t go it alone! Before starting your business, run your concept by people close to you that have expertise in other areas, perhaps like sales, or marketing. If you go it alone, you will fail to succeed.

6) Create a Business Direction Document! Map out your business plan even if just for yourself – does it make sense? Do a mini-risk assessment against it: where can things go wrong. Again, be honest with yourself and perhaps invite a few trusted people to assist.

7) Hit the books! Learn as much as your cranium can handle before it explodes. Sounds ludicrous to some I’m sure, but show dedication by using your spirit to succeed. Coupled with research and education, you may be able to bridge a small gap that leads to a great opportunity.

8) Be prepared to deliver each and every time! More often than not, business after business, from store front retail to contractors, do the bare minimum to gain the client’s business and nothing to gain their trust. Treat every customer like they are your first – be lively, be honest, be timely, and especially be trustworthy.

9) Watch your dollars! If an opportunity comes up that is a eureka moment, make sure you can action it immediately so it stays fresh in your mind conceptually. Nothing worse than spending $3,000 on a great vehicle wrap for your new business only to find you need to wait for one to two months to action your great idea. Be careful.

10) Failures are an opportunity to succeed! Don’t quit unless your financial situation and capital has dried up. Failures are actually a further opportunity to correct your past and rework your future. You may need to have a few before things begin to get off the ground. Don’t get too risky up front, but don’t be afraid to take calculated risks either. There is a delicate balance there.

So, is it time to teach your old dog of a business new tricks? 

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