Sustainability and Scalability

When you are building or starting a business, it is best to think in terms of both sustainability and scalability. Sustainability is all about asking “how will the business sustain revenue on an ongoing basis?”. Is there going to be demand for your product or services tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? Scalability is asking “how can the business grow?”.

If you are thinking about starting a business, you will want to start by writing a business plan. Or maybe it is time to do brainstorming with your team on your existing business. Whether you are planning to start a new business, or want to take a critical look at your current business, there are three areas on which to focus: offering the best, to the most, for the least. These three areas touch on the three most important areas of any business: the products and/or services you offer, your target customer, and pricing.

Offering the BEST. This is all about the product and/or services you offer. Whatever you offer, you of course want to be known for being the best. When customers are talking about your business, the last thing you would want to hear is “Oh, yeah, they are OK.” When customers are looking for a product or service, you want the kind of reputation that causes people to say “Oh yes, I know exactly where you should go for that, they are the best!” That is the kind of reputation any business owner wants to have. Being known for being the best means bringing your A-game every day, and having a team working for you that does the same.  

To the MOST. This is all about having a specific target customer and engaging with them. It is a common mistake of many new businesses, or businesses experiencing down sales trends, to add on additional product categories or services in an effort to capture more customers, and therefore more sales. Trying to be everything for everybody almost always ends up meaning nothing to nobody. There are too many brand names and failed retailers to list here that have fallen victim to this ill-planned strategy. When the offering is too broad, when customers are overwhelmed by choices, when the brand or company mission becomes muddled and the customers are no longer sure what you stand for, businesses fail.

Identify who your ideal customer is. What is your target demographic? What are the commonalities of your best customers? There are riches in niches. Know and understand the specific customers you are able to serve and then form a plan to reach as many of them as possible. Once you have a specific target customer, identify why do they need your products and services. Then market to them in a way that really stands out.  Marketing and advertising is so broad now. It can include having a social media presence, a website, printed flyers or brochures, and paid print advertising. Identify the best places for reaching your target customers and be consistent in putting your message out there.

At the LEAST. The final area to consider is your pricing. Pricing depends heavily on what you are selling. If you offer a commodity product or service, your competition’s pricing may be a strong consideration. The more differentiated your offering, the more flexibility you have when setting your prices. The important key when establishing pricing is this: when the customer learns your pricing, they should be able to easily recognize the value of what they are getting at that price. Value can represent many different things to different people, so again, it is important to avoid trying to please everyone. Knowing your competition (what they offer, at what price) and objectively analyzing what you offer in comparison, will help guide you to insuring you are offering your customers a value that is unique and worthy.

New or Revamping. So whether you are considering starting a new business, or you have an existing business and need to fine tune it a bit, or need to completely regroup, whatever your situation, start brainstorming with these three key areas. Using these may help you pinpoint areas in which you may have opportunities.

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