Diversifying your business

When we feel knocked off our feet with a major game-changer like COVID-19 and we have our own business it can feel like the obstacles are overwhelming. However, the good news is that there are things that can be done to diversify. In this article I explore how you can turn obstacles that arise into opportunities, which is my specialism as a coach and trainer.

As humans we get used to doing things a ‘certain way’ and if a system works why change it? If we do what we did, and we get good results, then we keep on doing the same thing. It makes sense. When we have to make major changes it requires a different way of thinking, we access new skills and we may have to reflect on how we can turn our business on it’s axis and diversify to keep an income stream. 

There are many ways that we can adapt and be flexible with our business. Let’s explore what this can mean for you.

The Oxford Dictionary describes the word ‘diversify’ as ‘to make or become more diverse or varied' and in the case of a business to ‘enlarge or vary its range of products or field of operation’.

I have put together 9 tips to help you to diversify right now:

1. Get creative and branch out

We can change the products or service we offer to our clients. We can expand to provide new and additional services or provide the same products but at a reduced price for a limited time. 

Have a think about how you might provide the same service but vary how you deliver it in a different format. When a change takes place - such as a health outbreak requiring people to change their daily practices - an opportunity arises for you to change the way you interact with customers in the long term to streamline your business.

Have you had interest from your customers in the past for a different offer? You may have been providing one product and been asked for another but never had the time to implement this.

Is there something they would like from you but you have not been able to offer previously?

Is there a way you still provide your area of specialism but in a different format, to a different part of the country or even globally? This may be your time to take that risk and branch out.

2. Understand the added value you provide

Have a think about what you are known for, what makes your business special and stand out. It can help to work out what people really get from your product or service. 

I was once told the story of a company who had a cafe in London and thought they were selling refreshments. It was true that they were selling drinks but in reality people were going there for free meeting space. They were selling that which is really tricky to access in London; a free place to have a meeting and network.

Take a jewellery business for example, you might think they are selling jewellery, but really they could be selling the opportunity for a client to make their loved one feel special.

So think about what you are really selling, what you're offering gives to others, and then think further and deeper to what it really provides. This, in turn, can help you to think creatively about how to diversify with your product and provide the same outcome that makes your business special in a different way. 

3. Target differently

We can keep the same products but change our target audience. Have a think about who your current clients are, what they gain from your services and then draw up a plan of who your clients could be by providing the same service but to a different client group. If, for example, you are used to working face-to-face and make the transition to provide your services online, then your target audience will change to those who are able to connect remotely. It might change the demographic considerably. 

4. Positive influence and support

It is important to recognise that a successful business is often dependant on collaboration and support from others. Referrals and recommendations all form part and parcel of a business succeeding. We are not an island and need intereaction to survive; now more than ever in an unstable economic climate.

Ask yourself - "what does my network look like currently and what would I like it to look like to help take my business forward?"

Which networks will give your support and enable you to feel psychologically safe to bounce your ideas around and experiment with new things?

Only this morning I was able to try out screen sharing on zoom with a wonderful network in a safe space, in readiness for developing further online training. 

If you can influence one person positively who then can influence another, who then has influence with someone else and so forth, then this can help you to expand your field of influence for your business and diversify.

Some of the questions you might like to ask yourself include: who can give me positive emotional support; who will speak highly of my business; who can increase my visibility and recommend me; and who is of help with connections to provide introductions to others.

Have a think about collaboration with other businesses. Bristol has a particularly supportive restaurant community for example and when COVID-19 happened to us there were a variety of impressive collaborative endeavours.

5. Skill up

We are responsible for our continuous professional development and attending coaching and training, watching tutorials and reading can be really helpful for galvanising new ways forward for your business.

As well as stretching your skills and knowlege have a think about those people who can provide honest feedback and give you support and encouragement whilst gaining new skills. There are so many ways we can increase our personal development for effective business acumen right now that it is a good time to increase those skills. 

It can be helpful to start by completing a skill inventory of what you currently have, what is transferrable that you had not previously considered and then what skills you think you might need. The next step is to put a plan in place for acquiring those skills.

6. Believe in yourself and have vision

We can often lose sight of the reason we first went into business and as humans we are always attracted to pleasure and avoid pain. So ask yourself what increases your self belief right now, what can you draw on as a value base with your business and what is going to give you the most happiness? 

Your unique qualities that led you to start your business are exactly the ones that will help you to move forward and diversify in tricky times. Essentially the person with the power to make things happen is...you! Never give up on what matters to you and the importance of achieving your vision.

7. Move out of your comfort zone

When we feel that we need to manage change and diversify, we have to move out of our comfort zone. This takes time and it’s worth being kind to ourself with the whole change process. It can help to meet with others and knock around a few ideas. If you start brain storming some ideas don’t worry about the quality of the ideas, just start with quantity. Then work through them and be really open minded; sometimes the ideas that seem the most crazy actually come to fruition. I know a very amazing professional dance teacher, for example, who says she never thought she would end up teaching and the dance world would have a great loss without her!

Choose one of the ideas you have created that stretches you right out of that comfort zone and put it into place. If you move out of your comfort zone with a new idea every week eventually it will feel less scary and become your new normal. It will become your zone of awesomeness!

8. Get inspiration

Have a look around and see what your competitors are doing right now. You could provide the same service but add your unique individual way of doing things for which people value you. 

Community is a really big buzz word right now as people want to feel connected.

How can you reach out and provide a really valued service in an inspiring way? Have a think about who inspires you, what are their qualities, how do they diversify right now, what is their offer?

9. See the bigger picture

In having a chat with an amazing business this week, they said that in these times of change they are having to ‘take a step back and see the bigger picture’.

What are your long term goals and what will help you move towards them whilst keeping afloat in your business?

In times of change we can feel like we are a rabbit caught in the headlights when we are scared of new things happening, but, if we can consider how changes now will impact our business in the long run, we can gain confidence to implement new things. 

I hope that this article has been of help to you and your business. If you would like to explore this further with coaching for your business, search Life Coach Directory. Many coaches are now offering online and telephone appointments.

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Sarah Clark - Mariposa Coaching

I am a coaching practitioner of 20 years. I use evidence based coaching psychology approaches. My portfolio includes working with Drs, lawyers, teachers, small businesses, charities, busy parents, couples, CEOs and young people. I also design and deliver training for management and staff in the workplace. Contact me for a free initial consultation.… Read more

Written by Sarah Clark - Mariposa Coaching

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