Especially during challenging times, it’s important that businesses are agile enough to move in new directions, diversify their client base, and tap into new sectors and industries when the opportunities arise.
But getting a foot in the door of these new spaces can be a challenge, particularly when face-to-face meetings are difficult and networking events are a distant dream.
Instead of looking out for ways to expand into a new sector, consider turning your eye inward towards your own people.
That breadth of experience and knowledge is an amazing resource, but it goes ignored and unnoticed by so many business leaders.
Here’s how to harness the power of your existing team for a strong business future.
Diversifying for success and longevity
Good businesses will begin with a targeted market segment — a clear understanding of the kind of client they want to attract and the best way to position themselves to do so.
In a small business, this segment is generally quite niche, allowing a business to create a sense of expertise in a particular area and a bespoke service offered to a specific industry.
Starting small in this way is smart. Working within the one industry is efficient, helps to build a network, and allows a business to establish itself as a player in that space.
But what happens when the opportunities within that area dry up?
Especially if the sector was small, to begin with, you may find yourself running out of tarmac just as your business is starting to take off.
Or, working within the one industry could bring with it the challenges of working with rival companies, with non-competes and conflicts of interest becoming problematic.
But there are plenty of ways to continue to grow even when the prospects within your niche start to look thin on the ground.
Great businesses know that diversifying their client base and expanding their offering is a sure path to long-lasting success.
That doesn’t mean doing complete 180s and entering new industries you’ve never touched before.
It could be tapping into adjacent industries (from construction to real estate, for example), or taking the expertise your business has developed in one area and seeing how it can be applied to another.
Having a diverse client base across a range of industries, and having the courage to pursue different areas, means that your opportunities can grow exponentially.
Identifying the strengths of your workforce
But how do you enter into industries that are different to that core client segment you identified when starting out?
A great first step is tapping into the experience and expertise of the team you’re working with.
All employees will come to a new business with some experience, whether that be in the workforce, through study, or through their personal life.
Harnessing the skills and knowledge of your team — no matter how irrelevant they seem to your ‘core’ business — can help your company remain nimble and open to new things.
Maybe your marketing coordinator used to work in the health and fitness space. Your main business could be providing bespoke packaging solutions to the food and beverage industry, but there may be room to investigate care packages for new gym customers, or exciting wrapping concepts for high-end yoga equipment.
Keeping an open mind and taking advantage of your staff member’s knowledge and first-hand experience is a great way to enter a new space.
Capitalising on connection
Simply taking an interest in the background of your employees and encouraging them to maintain any contacts they have from previous roles will open doors for new business and new directions.
And it’s vital that you treat all employees as being equally equipped to contribute and bring new business to the table.
Work cultures that encourage ideas from everyone are more productive and successful than those who only allow a select few to deliver concepts.
A broader and more diverse group of people contributing ideas for lead generation results in out-of-the-box thinking and more exciting possibilities.
Encourage employees to keep a wide network of contacts, regardless of the apparent relevance to your business.
In many industries, preference is given to working with someone you know and trust, and these relationships are vital for your business to expand in new directions.
So never discourage your office manager from getting a coffee with an old colleague. You never know what could come from it.