You may only start with one product or one distinct service, but in order to continue growing, you’ll need to think about how to diversify your offer. In other words, changing, improving or offering more services or products in order to encourage your existing customers to keep buying from you and to attract new ones who may not be interested in what you already have.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach this:

Step 1: Identifying a new idea, product or service

Market research is a great way to get a sense of what people are after and it’s also a sound way to make sure you’re not throwing money at an idea that isn’t going to sell.

If you’re looking for ideas to aim at your current target audience, try asking some of your existing customers:

  • What would you like my business to offer in terms of services that we don’t already?
  • Is there anything that our existing product doesn’t do that you wish it did?

Also take note of what the most common product or service enquiries are that your business receives. Is there a pattern to them or consistent things that keep getting asked? It could be that a product or service you offer does do what they’re looking for, but that this feature isn’t being communicated clearly in marketing materials or by salespeople. A small change on your website or more information given to your stockists might result in an upturn of sales without having to make any fundamental changes in your product or service range.

Once you’ve done your research and you’ve identified an apparent gap in the market, it’s worth doing some competitor research to make sure others aren’t already doing something similar. If they are, try to figure out how you could improve on it.

Step 2: Development

Setting up periodic review points during the development process is important, as it will allow you to review the progress as you go and make changes if need be. It’s easy to get ‘caught up’ in the excitement of making something new, particularly if you’re sure the idea is a winner. Taking time to check what you’re doing against what you set out to do, plus asking other people’s opinions who are outside the process can not only add value to what you’re doing, but also prevent you straying too far off-course.

Step 3: Financing

Gaining adequate funding for your new product or service is one of the most common hurdles that you’re likely to face. Even if you’ve planned a realistic development budget, unexpected costs can throw a spanner in the works if you’re not prepared for them. Do build a buffer or contingency margin into your budget, just in case.

Step 4: Launch

It’s important to determine how to sell, promote and support your product or service prior to launch. Click here for more information on sales and marketing planning.