After months, years, or even decades of stress and entrepreneurial exhaustion, you finally feel confident that your small business is a hit. Now you’re ready to take your show on the road. Diversifying can help you keep your growth momentum, but going mobile requires a fine-tuned strategy — so that you don’t neglect your core company in the process.
- Do your homework. Appealing to new audiences may seem like a foolproof way to expand your product or service offering, but without a thorough understanding of the market, you risk wasting time and money. What’s worse, you could cannibalize your “bread and butter” operation if existing customers aren’t as loyal as you thought. So, once you’ve identified an opportunity, stop. Gather insights about the customers you aim to reach, possible competitors, the market’s current saturation, and potential demand. If you’re in an industry whose regulations and licensing requirements vary by location (such as food trucks), educate yourself before you set up shop. Failing to do so could not only put the brakes on your new venture before it gets rolling, but also could jeopardize your brand’s reputation. Make sure that you understand your core business, too. Replicate what you’ve done right, applying your best practices to your mobile efforts.
- Assess risk and reward. The beauty of mobile endeavors is that they often require a lower investment upfront than traditional businesses. On the other hand, they can be more challenging, particularly when it comes to establishing a brand presence and forming a lasting bond with customers. Honestly assess how much time you can spend on both your traditional and mobile efforts, whether you have trusted staff that you can leave in charge, how you intend to secure financing, and how the financial burden of a diversified venture will impact your core business. If you have doubts, now may not be the right time to diversify.
- Delegate tasks. Develop training and operations manuals to document what makes your core business successful and entrust capable employees to handle specific responsibilities. By delegating the tasks that keep your core business flourishing, you can focus your entrepreneurial energy toward building a mobile venture. Consider forming a partnership with a trusted resource — someone who has an existing presence or skill set in the mobile business area you wish to diversify — to minimize your initial legwork. Reach an arrangement in terms of cross-selling, branding, and sharing finances and operational responsibilities.
- Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Diversification doesn’t mean that you have to journey into unknown territory. Look for an opportunity to “retrofit” a niche product or service in your core business to target a different audience or sales channel. If this is your first foray into diversification, consider extending an existing service or product line into complementary areas. Once you’ve proven that you can successfully manage a new endeavor while keeping your core brand afloat, you can think more boldly and broadly.