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Sometimes an idea to expand your small business comes at you from an unexpected direction. Even after you do careful thought and planning, good expansion ideas are where you find them.
Listen carefully to your current clients and customers. They can point you in a completely new direction. Of course, you always listen to them. But do you listen carefully?
Example: Mary runs a salon and spa. When she noticed that many of her clients were undergoing cancer treatments, she felt badly for them and wanted to help. She decided to add oncology esthetician services. After doing a search, she found an independent certified esthetician and made arrangements to offer the service at her place. Mary had expanded the services she offered, and it attracted additional people. When she posted the service on Facebook, many more arrived.
Example: Alex runs a landscaping business. He did lots of fall cleanup, winter pruning, spring planting, and year-round mulching. Many of his customers had questions about shrubs and perennials that Alex could not answer. He thought that this might be an area for expanding, so he contacted a garden center. They came to a partnership understanding and each began offering the other's services. Alex now has a bigger base of customers and regularly refers people to the garden center. He is now expanding into building gates and fences, laying brick and stone to create walkways and seating areas. The relationship with the garden center has been greatly beneficial to both.
Example: Law school and the bar exam behind her, Sue opened her own law office. She found herself handling traffic tickets, real estate closings, drawing up wills, and doing business partnership agreements. When a client asked about worker's comp, Sue saw an opportunity. She began concentrating on worker's comp cases, and she soon found it necessary to add a partner to her growing firm to handle all the work. Her reputation is growing and referrals regularly show up at her door. She has now become the go-to lawyer for worker's comp cases.
New directions for your business come at you all the time. Pick the good ones, test them out, and select the best.
Before heading off in a new direction, always do the numbers for your business plan. It's that projected bottom line that keeps you focused.