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Development and flexibility vs. losing your identity: Where is the line?

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Competition and the desire to adjust to the demands of the market sometimes cause us to lose our uniqueness (sound familiar?). The result is a scattered brand, which in many cases causes damage to your reputation. The solution? Well, keep reading.

According to one familiar perspective, if everyone got to do what they loved, the world would be a better place. But, at least in the business world, that doesn’t always happen. Many businesses start with some kind of vision – and then reality sets in: you have to go make money. In the best of circumstances, this leads to marketing projects aimed at the short-term only, and in other cases you might end up offering services or taking action that actually moves you away from the heart of what you do, or in other words your specialty, the reason why you set out on this journey in the first place.

On the other hand, the pace of development in our current day-in-age makes it very difficult for businesses that are stagnant and don’t know how to adapt, which means they have to be aware of trends and shifting demands that will tell them what adjustments need to be made. But how do you know when to change and in what way?

The first question: What is your product?

We’ll start by saying that in a world of businesses that are similar to one another and generate a high level of competition, it makes sense that everyone wants to add as many additional services as possible to what they have to offer. But spontaneous decisions aren’t what builds a business. Rather it’s thinking in the long term that’s important, seeing how a product could add something to your business or harm it.

That’s why the first question that needs to be asked is what you specialize in, and just as important, what attracts your customers to you.

After establishing what’s at the heart of your business – what you’re known for – you need to understand if the direction you want to develop and grow in is actually efficient for you. There are four important questions you need to answer to come to a final conclusion:

Is this service one you really want to provide or are you doing it on someone else’s whim?

Sometimes it’s just two customers requesting a service and other times it’s just something you’ve been seeing all over the place. Everyone wants Instagram today, but that doesn’t mean that businesses that don’t know how to offer the same experience won’t succeed or that those who do will.

Are the changes you’re thinking of making related to who you are and the core of what you do?

Can you somehow connect a new initiative to what your company specializes in? Will it give inspiration, help you learn something or influence other aspects of your business? Does it naturally match up with the core of what you do? If not, it’s likely to scatter your efforts and attention, not to mention the vision you have for your business.

Are you providing added value with this service? Do you know how to provide a better service or product than anyone else?

It’s better to provide your audience with a few great products than many mediocre ones. You also need to consider the influence of this product on the rest of your business, like the pressure it might add to your customer service for example, which could harm products and services that were there first.

Is it worth it financially?

Every service comes at a price, including the necessary training period and the mistakes you’re likely to make in the beginning, both of which will cost you at least a few customers, and sometimes important ones.

How to add services or products without harming the core of your business

After answering those questions, if you’ve still decided to take on a new project, it’s important to do so in a way that won’t harm your business. Here are a few important suggestions of how to do it right:

1. Stay within the 20/80 boundaries

Most of the services you know how to provide, about 80%, need to be intimately tied to the core of your business and your unique specialties. In order to maintain some kind of movement and remain relevant, it’s best to invest a portion of your resources (up to 20%) in testing new directions of growth and development. Any more than that and you’re risking getting lost.

2. Make sure to do it in a way that matches the essence and character of your business

The line between the perception of a business that has great expertise in its field and provides a broad range of services and a business that’s a jack of all trades is very thin. It’s important that there be a bridge between all of your services. You can achieve this through storytelling, which presents all of your services in a similar light. Start building your story and in certain cases you’ll discover that it’s best to pursue a rebranding process. Just to prove our point, we’ve also discontinued certain services because they didn’t match our identity as a company.

3. Make sure you’re always excellent

No matter what direction you’ve chosen, you need to make sure that your customers continue getting the best and most professional products and service you can possibly offer.

4. Think about breaking things up

If you don’t think that the foundation already exists for some new initiative you want to pursue, it might be best to make a clear separation between the new service and your existing business. Give it a different name and different branding to reduce the probability of harming your existing business – at least until you’re sure that your new service works well.

Conclusion

Your starting point always needs to come from the knowledge that if you do what you do better than anyone else, your customers will keep coming back (on condition that there is demand for the services you provide). This doesn’t mean you have to drive yourself crazy examining the market and trends or even stay ahead of the curve of change; just make sure you don’t exaggerate with the number of changes you’re going through as a company at any given time, and even when you make a change, you can keep it on a slow burn. When you see that’s it’s working well over time, pushing you forward personally and creating good business, then you can bring it to the front either within the framework of your existing business or as a new one with completely new branding.

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