Monday, July 21, 2014

Business drift

     Free daily tips, information and advice for people in small business
     from personal experience founding and operating businesses--been there, done that.

     Starting your business was hard. No doubt about it. Getting a business off the ground takes all your time and attention and strength and ingenuity, along with money and a dash of luck.

     Well, it was good to get all that behind me!

     News flash. It ain't ever behind you.

     Businesses drift. Your business drifts with the changing market. It drifts with the economy. It drifts with all this new social media. You're pulled this way and that.

     Example: Mary loved making women's hats. She loved designing them. She loved selecting different materials and using them in her hat making shop. She also loved to decorate the hats with all sorts of other things she made--pins, feathers, artificial flowers, beads and seasonal seeds. These additional items made the hats "pop" and led to sales, she believed. As time passed, Mary noticed that customers asked to buy the pin or other decoration, and they left the hat behind. She was happy to be selling things she had made. Soon, however, she got a wholesale order for 500 of her pins. She was suddenly in the pin business, and the hats languished on the displays. What had been the accessory now became the main product. Her business had drifted.

     Drifting into new markets can be exciting--and profitable. It's always a good feeling to get a whole bunch of new orders.

     Example: John had worked on computers since his teenage years. While he was still in college, he opened a small repair shop. People would lug their desktops to his place and he would get them back in operation. After college, John decided to concentrate on his repair shop, building his business. Then a strange thing happened. Customers asked if he would come to their place and set up networked computers. As he spent more and more time doing this, the word spread. Referrals brought in more business--away from his shop. Finally, he decided to go with the drift. He closed the shop, moved everything to a home office, and today spends all his time at other businesses--setting up, networking, training, troubleshooting.  

     Sometimes, you decide to go in the direction of the drift. Or maybe you pull back, refuse orders that take you out of your main business, and look for other ways to expand. It can be a time to re-think your original plan. 

     Whatever you decide to do, do it with your eyes open. Don't drift without watching. 

     I'm topping off a lifetime of personal experience in small business with this blog. Your questions are answered at no charge. Email me at and put BLOG in the subject line. Otherwise I'm likely to delete along with those trying to sell me something. Your privacy is protected--I don't give your email address to anyone, ever. 

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