Ask yourself this simple question: Is my business growing right now?
If you answered no, it doesn’t mean your business is in trouble, but it might mean you are settling for being good when you could be better, or even the best, at what you do.
No growth can be a sign that you are holding on to a product that needs to be rethought or a service that may not be as relevant as it once was, or perhaps needs to be applied to a different market. If that’s the case, it’s time to step back and see if you can turn something good into something better.
Take Cardinal Health as an example. The company started as Cardinal Foods, distributing foods throughout Central Ohio. While successful, food distribution wasn’t a high-growth business, so the small company added pharmaceutical distribution.
Cardinal’s true expertise was in distribution, not food. Pharmaceutical distribution was a more lucrative business with higher growth potential, so the company applied its expertise to that market and thrived, eventually selling off the food business altogether. Today, Cardinal is a $91 billion company.
Too often, business leaders are afraid to change. It’s easy to fall in love with your own products and keep hoping that things will get better next quarter, but you have to listen to the market and understand where your true expertise lies. Search for the spot where you can take what you know and apply it to a new market or in a new way. It will take patience, solid counsel and risk, but it’s the only way to forward.
Don’t focus on what you make; focus on what you know. Then take that knowledge to a new market by solving customer problems. What do you know how to do that can help people solve problems?
In today’s economy, nothing remains the same. The competition is too quick and too nimble for you to settle for the status quo. Today’s hot product or service can quickly become supplanted by the next big thing, so you have to always be looking for the next opportunity to stay ahead of the pack and avoid obsolescence.
Take a step back and think about your expertise. You might be surprised how you can quickly transform something that’s good into something that’s even better, opening up a world of growth potential.
Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc., the publisher of Smart Business Magazine and operates SBN Interactive, a content marketing firm.