Friday, September 18, 2015

New market paths

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     Small expansions can point the way to new directions for your business. It's a way of testing the market possibilities. 

     You already do this. But do you view it as a test? A way to find new markets? A path toward future expansion? 

     Example: Becky is running a successful jewelry-making operation. It wasn't always so. She began years ago, gradually turning a hobby into a business. With an artistic flair, she turned small found objects into pins, necklaces, earrings. A brooch, for example, she made with buttons and bottle caps. She turned a bent spoon handle into a ring, and so on. But many of her ideas and designs remained locked in her head--for lack of found materials. Becky recently discovered 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, in which items can be created in plastic or metal. When office supply giant Staples began offering the service to the public, Becky tested some of her ideas. She is now headed toward expanding her jewelry-making operation using 3D printing. Her ideas will go into the computer and out will come creations far removed from the days she started as a hobby. Now, Becky can truly create using leading edge technology, and she will be offering limited editions of her unique jewelry.

     Example: Zack's family has been farming for many generations. His father decided decades ago to create an apple orchard. Acres of apple trees began producing many different varieties of apples, and Zack grew up in the family apple business. Most of the apple production was sold in the wholesale markets. He expanded his father's business by offering pick-your-own apples and selling at several farm markets. Then he added a big cider mill, bottling cider for both retail and wholesale markets. This provided new market paths for the farm's apple production. Zack spotted another new market path--the production of hard cider and apple wines. He is now getting licensed and installing the equipment to add another market path to the apple operation. He is busily setting out more apple trees, adding more acres of orchard to supply more apples in his expanding operation. 

     More examples: A chiropractor adds a nutritionist and a massage therapist, headed toward creating a wellness center. A computer repair technician expands by offering coaching and training in social media to small businesses. A consignment shop expands by offering collectibles on eBay, gradually transforming a local business into a national base and destination on its website. An attorney expands by tackling the elder care market. A cafe begins offering gluten-free and vegetarian meals--appealing to new market segments.

     And so it goes. New market paths are all around you. You cannot be all things to all people, but you can test one possibility at a time. 

     Alert business owners investigate and evaluate new market paths. The way forward is always there--waiting for you to take advantage. 

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