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A to Z and Soup to Nuts


…Maybe. But maybe not.

Are you trying to have your business

be all things to all people?


It’s easy to see why any business owner would choose, or be tempted to choose, a path of omnipresence.

First in the line of reasons is the motivation to survive a continually worsening economy (spawned by the federal government’s continuing business incompetence, and aggravated by its dumb and dumber insistence that the recession ended last June!).

Reasons enough to drive any entrepreneur scrambling up the wall of desperation.

Second, we need look no further for examples of others making “Sales Offering Sprawl” work, than to tune in to the examples offered by many product-based companies.

Traditional product specialization offerings have been sidetracked, integrated, absorbed, and demolished.

In retail and online businesses alone, we can barely keep up as consumers with where’s the best place to buy what.  

We’ve watched drugstores evolve over the past generation from independent prescription pharmacies supplemented by inventories of OTC (over-the-counter) drugs and some limited HBA (health & beauty aids) products, plus maybe a 6-stool soda fountain and some penny candy, into today’s behemoth supermarket and electronic warehouse (even furniture) chains that seem to sell everything under the sun.

Most notable of course is the inclusion of complete in-store professionally staffed medical facilities — and the forerunner of that: tucking entire pharmacies under the same roofs, as a number of industry-leading retail giants have done.

So why wouldn’t it seem appropriate to aspire to include a little bit of everything under your own roof?

Maybe it is appropriate, but don’t just think so and then do it. Entrepreneurs take only reasonable risks. That “Best Guess” path is not a wise or reasonable risk. Take the time and trouble and energy and expense to define, set up and run focus group discussions with target clients/customers to determine what they really think instead of what you think they think.

Design a strategic plan. It need

 not be fancy, but it needs to exist.

The good news is that if the November elections can produce enough upstart representation by people who understand that new small businesses are the nation’s only source of job creation and that job creation is the only way to turn the economic tide, business can be more free-market and free-wheeling and more competitive again.

But the bad news is that until that point actually occurs (probably 2-3 years away at best), decision making about what your business is in business to sell needs to be more cautious and needs to be based on more than opinion.

Service businesses are not product businesses.

B to B businesses are not B to C businesses.

Avoid getting caught in that tangled tidal wave of confusion by sticking to what you specialize in, by developing strategic plans for how to proceed and by encouraging more than SBA lip-service and make-believe assistance to small businesses.

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