Monday, December 28, 2015

Expand your market

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     Expand your market and you expand your business. When you reach out into markets that are related to what you already do, your business naturally attracts more customers. You grow. 

     Many of these new customers know you, they appreciate what you do, and they are ready to call you for the new services/products you offer. Also, expanding into related markets can extend your business reach.

     This doesn't mean that you take off in a different direction. That's a different kind of expansion. On the contrary, it means expanding into a wider segment of the market you already serve.

     Example: Kathy inherited her father's business. For many years, he had developed expertise in selling and repairing gas-fired appliances, furnaces, heaters, and other gas-fired items. He had also collected a huge inventory of parts and supplies, many of them out-of-date and decades old, along with manufacturer's schematics and catalogs extending back some 50 years. The business consisted of 8 employees and two service vans. It pretty much ran itself. But Kathy saw a possible expansion. She developed a new website, offering out-of-date parts, supplies, schematics and catalogs for gas-fired items no longer manufactured or supported by brands. This expanded her market to people all over the country and became a healthy addition to the existing business--which she still operates in the area she serves.

     Example:  Tom runs an auto repair shop. He handled regular tune-ups, replaced exhaust systems, provided new filters, balanced wheels, and, of course, could troubleshoot problems on his computer set-up. He also started doing minor collision work and saw an opportunity to expand in this area. He put up a steel addition to the garage where he could do more collision repairs, including paint jobs. This was a new expansion for Tom, but the reception in the community was quick and positive. He had successfully expanded into a related market. 

     Other examples: Bakeries can use social media to expand into wider markets, offering boxes of baked goodies shipped overnight for corporate meetings and private gatherings. Landscapers, who have built their businesses cutting lawns and trimming shrubbery, can expand by offering garden designs and layouts for people wanting to re-work their yards. Computer experts can expand by educating clients on the value of social media--how to use Facebook, for example. 

     Look around for other segments of the larger market you serve for ways that you can expand your own business. Sometimes, using this idea, it's fairly easy to capture more customers--and grow yourself. 

     Never try to expand until you take a hard look at your business plan. If it fits, okay. If not, keep looking. The marketplace is huge.   


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