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STREET SMARTS

Norm Brodsky on Keeping Your Business Concept Simple

When you offer a number of different services, building an easy-to-understand brand can be tricky.

Norm Brodsky is a veteran entrepreneur.

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The final query this month comes from Meri West, who asked about choosing a name for her home-cleaning business in the July/August issue:

Dear Norm,
Can I ask you a follow-up question? How many add-ons can I have before I start looking desperate and willing to do anything? For example, I'd like to offer swimming pool maintenance -- balancing chemicals, scrubbing walls, cleaning skimmers, and such. And I could also do light pet care, such as walking or brushing a dog or taking pets to a vet. I could offer basic plant care as well, and light home maintenance such as cleaning lint filters, dealing with air and water filters, and replacing toilet seats. How much can I offer without appearing to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none?

Meri West, founder, A Well Kept Home
Jacksonville, Florida

At least Meri understands the risk she runs by offering to do too much. I shudder to think what her business card would look like if she tried to include every little thing she's willing to do. Here's a better idea: Meri should say simply, "I take care of your home." Period. If people ask whether she changes filters or scrubs swimming pool walls and walks dogs, she can say, "Of course. That's part of taking care of a home."

Please send all questions to AskNorm@inc.com. Norm Brodsky is a veteran entrepreneur. His co-author is editor-at-large Bo Burlingham. Their book, The Knack, is now available in paperback under the title Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs.

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Last updated: Sep 1, 2010

NORM BRODSKY | Columnist

Street Smarts columnist and senior contributing editor Norm Brodsky is a veteran entrepreneur who has founded and expanded six businesses.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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