Isn’t it wonderful to get to a place in your business or career where you don’t have to work very hard to make a happy, healthy living?
Before you get to this spot, you long for it. You work hard to make it happen.
And then when you reach it, and hang out there for awhile, a funny thing happens: you get itchy to get to a new place.
You start to yearn to grow, and to leverage the success you have had to date in new and interesting areas.
My friend Michele Woodward has a definition of growth that I like better than “get outside of your comfort zone” – “expand your comfort zone.”
If you are a small business owner, are you ready to stretch yourself a bit, and expand your market base or business model?
How do you know when you are ready to expand your market base?
- You look at the content you have created, and realize that many more people could use it than the market you are currently serving
- You are a bit fatigued at putting all your energy into the “build it and they will come” model of content marketing and are ready for some bigger moves
- You have built significant visibility and trust in your market
- You have your basic business operations and systems in place, and have a clean and efficient way of serving your current customers well
Questions to ask yourself to help find new markets (assuming they are aligned with your core values):
- Is there a larger company that serves my market and has something that would truly help my customers grow and develop?
- Is there something I have to offer a larger company that serves their market and could offer a significant value to their customers?
- Are there opportunities in government contracts that I could take advantage of because of interest, affiliation or business designation (woman, veteran, minority owned, etc – detailed information here: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting/contracting-opportunities )
- Is there a non-profit organization or cause that is aligned with my core business that I could serve with my skills or contacts, and which could expose me to new peers or partners?
- If I work primarily in online business, are their local businesses or organizations that could use my expertise or services, perhaps in a live configuration instead of an online one?
- Would I consider selling my business? If so, what should I begin to prepare?
What to expect people will ask for when you start to grow markets
When you start to reach out into new markets, particularly with larger partners, you need to frame the story of your business in a new way. You need to prepare:
- Statistics that demonstrate your market reach (Twitter followers, blog readers, newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans, total number of customers served, annual sales, etc.)
- A succinct vision of your business that describes what you are about and what makes you unique, how you have grown your business to this stage, where you plan to go in the next 12-24 months, whom you want to partner with and why.
- A powerful story that gets partners excited about the business vision. Why are you passionate about growing your business, beyond making money? Lauryn Ballesteros, who has worked to secure large partnerships for Seth Godin’s Domino Project and Squidoo, told me that a passionate, compelling story is a huge part of successful sponsor sales.
- A path of trust and credibility. Who can vouch for you? What do your customers say about you? What do peers and mentors think about your work? What does Google pull up with your name in the search box? Now is a great time to galvanize your community behind you, so that your growth benefits everyone in your ecosystem, not just your own business.
Personally, I am really excited to begin to grow in some new directions. I feel some of the newbie startup energy that I felt sixteen years ago when I began my consulting practice. I am reaching out to sponsors for my Power Boost Live event, I am looking for companies to partner with to share the huge amount of content I have created over the last seven years, and I am looking forward to creating some truly unique partnerships in support of the release of my new book next year.
It is uncomfortable sometimes. I don’t have the well-developed answers to every question like I do for my coaching practice. I have to challenge my thinking when creating a new business vision, and base new ideas on business models that have not been created yet. I have to be very careful to make sure that every decision is tightly aligned with my personal business ethics and company values.
But it is so worth it.
When we don’t stretch, we don’t grow. When we don’t grow, we get bored, complacent and lose enthusiasm.
I am happy to say that I have enjoyed just about every day of work for the last sixteen years. And I intend to keep it that way.
What are ways you are thinking of growing yourself and your business in the next year?