By Katherine Gotthardt
You launched your business. You’ve worked hard, and you are doing well. You have confidence that your client base will continue to be steady or even grow. But now what? What steps should you take to get to the next level? Here are some ideas whose time might have come.
Expand your product line. You might ask how you can do this without changing industries. The answer is to find other ways of offering your product or service as you continue to demonstrate your expertise. For example, you might write a book about your product, one that offers enough information but leads the customer back to you. Or you might offer seminars. You might start to consult in addition to selling products, or sell products in addition to consulting. There are multiple creative ways you can develop a new product line and become more profitable.
Re-evaluate your market. Especially if you plan to expand your product line, start thinking about who might be interested in what you are offering. For example, if you now run classes on using your products in addition to selling the products, you might target individuals and organizations in search of continuing education. If you’ve written a book, incorporate it into the presentation. In this way, you begin to offer package deals that expand your scope of customers.
Collaborate with complementary businesses. There are so many creative ways to do this, we couldn’t possibly list them all, but here are some things to think about. Perhaps you offer computer repair services. You might work with a store that offers the product. Set up a discount program between you. Or co-sponsor a workshop. You could even co-author a book.
Network or network more. It’s easy to stagnate when you don’t attend networking meetings or you attend the same ones. Increase the number of networking meetings you attend. Collect cards from business owners and professionals and see how you might help one another. The more relationships you build, the more likely you are to get referrals. Remember, though, that networking should not be a one-way-street. You should always think about how you can help your fellow professionals and not make it all about you.
Get a storefront or office. If you’ve been working from home, Starbucks or the library, you might consider becoming more visible. A storefront or office can get you more visibility and foot traffic. A physical building also indicates your business is moving up in the world – even if the space is small, a place with a sign signifies “official” to some people, and they will be more likely to use you. If this is cost prohibitive, consider sharing space with another company or a partnering company.
In the end, you will need to decide what is feasible and what is not, but don’t limit yourself. Some brainstorming and planning will eventually get you where you want to be, and that place is a lot bigger than where you are now.
Katherine Gotthardt is a writer, editor and published author. She is CEO of All Things Writing, LLC.