In down times many companies are looking for new income streams and new profit potential to replace declining and lost revenues. For some, diversifying is a simply a bad idea and not in their Vision Plan.
But for others diversification may actually make all the difference.
For many business owners diversification allows their company to create new customer value and creating a new and stronger value proposition. A strong value proposition creates significant barriers to entry for competitors. In today's "downturned" markets companies need every advantage they can get.
One creative strategy is to aggregate new types of income by 'repackaging and remerchandising' existing products and services. This strategy has the obvious advantage of not having far to look to find new products and services to offer because the base strategy is to simply repackaging what you already have.
Even though repackaging tactics may give the appearance of being 'smoke and mirrors', this strategy actually gives your company a chance to enhance your brand or company's "look and feel."
"We kept adding new products and new groups of products and suddenly we found our market strength in diversity," says Wayne Kiltz, CEO of New Jersey based Africa Imports, "and because we had built a strong infrastructure we have had the capability to keep expanding."
Looking for new niche markets is another strategy but one with considerably more risk. The entrepreneur should always remember she is never alone in her quest for niche market opportunity. And as with all new ventures the smart strategist takes a realistic look at risk, exposure and return.
One way to leverage new niche market opportunities is to combine them with your 'old' products, services and offerings. Doing a "makeover" or updating your "look and feel" can breathe new life into stagnant sales. Remaining flexible and always on the prowl for opportunity simply 'enhances your chances.'
And sometimes those chances can be right under your nose.
"For years we had designed, prototyped, manufactured and raced motorcycles," says Ray Shott, Jr., owner of Hellbent Motorcycles in Hollister, California, "one day we just took apart some engines and started designing some better ones and now we sell our own engines."
Which leads the strategist to conclude it is almost always best to stick to what you know. Going from motorcycles to hamburgers would be too far a stretch. And don't count on tried and true answers in a steep economic downturn. In turbulent times growth can come in funny ways.
"Locally we were in one of the toughest construction markets in the Unites States," says Wayne Medina of Medina's Construction Company, Santa Cruz and Salinas, California, "we kept adding to what we could and were willing to build so we found new business and started growing again."
Diversifying what your company does and sells can have other positive benefits. If you diversify intelligently you should grow and growth attracts skilled employees. Current employees can also grow and learn new skills through diversification.
And most importantly from a Human Resources viewpoint, your company becomes an interesting place to work which keeps employee morale high. An interesting workplace creates employee 'buzz' and helps your company retain your better employees; 'why would I want to leave?'
By strategically choosing the right ways to diversify your products and services you can take advantage of the turbulent economic downturn and actually grow. Whether you succeed or not depends first on your strategy's strengths and subsequently on how well you execute your plan.
There are successful companies that "neither make nor do" but focus on diversifying into new markets and actually creating new markets. Since diversification works for them it certainly might also work for you.
And it could be a lot fun, too.
JD Deal owns JD Deal Business Consulting, Santa Cruz, California 95060 831-457-8806. Related articles, ideas, strategies, tactics and tips can be found at and .