Your small business may focus of the day when it will be recognized as a local institution: a place where those in the know go to find what they need, with the history and the legacy of service that will attract customers both old and new. There’s a perceived degree of commitment required in the pursuit of this goal: success achieved through finding your niche and narrowing it, and sticking to your guns.
While there is enormous value in that approach, small businesses must realize that, as in the current economic climate, versatility and adaptability are increasingly important in keeping ahead of changing consumer attitudes, economic conditions, and local/regional developments. As David Bowie put it: “Changes, turn and face the strange.”
Established small businesses face competition both from large-scale alternatives and newer, buzz-worthy startups in the same market. Traditionally, the value added by personal and community-focused customer service has helped small business owners stand out among their peers. Diversity is the second, and often more overlooked, asset that many small businesses can leverage to succeed. It should be built from your existing strengths: if, for example, your business has longstanding expertise in sales of a a particular product, consider the value of adding repair services to your model once the market for new goods has been saturated. Maintain awareness of new ways to approach old problems – ones that might be more cost-effective, efficient or attractive. Don’t fear the process of reworking, re-establishing, redesigning, or renovating: ensure that your most loyal customers and advocates come along for the ride during these transitions, and new audiences will be opened to you.
Much like the many faces and personalities of the aforementioned Bowie, a small business will find itself driving and reacting to new creative impulses that ought to be explored in order to stay competitive in a volatile marketplace. It may involve shifts in practice, personnel and personality: take care not to alienate your core customer base, but stay connected to the market as it changes around you in order to find continued success.