Last week, we spent some time discussing how acknowledged leaders in their industries, even if they are still technically "small businesses" can grow their incomes by providing their expertise to other entrepreneurs. As many of you said in your feedback to me, "I don't have the time to do that!"

Let's talk about why...

You've never taken the time to document how you do things in your business or to test how the systems you use can be refined. You - and your oldest employees and partners - preface the idea of change with "but we've always done it this way..."

Nonsense! As Henry Ford once said, "If I gave people what they wanted, it would have been faster horses!"

This article isn't about building or refining systems - you should know enough to be doing that already and if you're not, then you're working too hard for too little. Nope, this article is about thinking how you can grow your own book of business based on the knowledge you have about your customers.

Like Amazon did when they quit selling books and became a retailer.

Like Starbucks did when they realized people will pay two or three times what a cup of coffee is actually worth.

Like Walmart did when they decided to sell everything in one place.

What do your customers need?

Ask them and they'll tell you! If you're an electrician, you can see if they need additional work done in the property. If you fix cars, you can see if they need tires. If you sell insurance, you can see if they need retirement planning.

And the best part? All you have to do is ask! If you interface with 100 clients this week and you see that a sizable percentage of them need a product or service, then you can begin to look at how you can offer that to them. NOT necessarily doing it or carrying it, but perhaps by simply having an affiliate relationship with a company that can provide them that service that you just determined they need.

These ideas are all around you when you begin to look for them. You may not "see" the shift in, say, casual dining to a faster, more mobile experience, but you can bet that the small restaurant owners today are seeing it firsthand and taking the steps to engage guests like Chipotle and Starbucks are successfully doing today.

Who else in in your sector that your clients are using - and how are they using it? If you provide a product that is used in a durable fixture - a fuse or data storage device, for example - are you reaching out to the manufacturers to have your products packaged with the producers? You might remember that idea worked pretty well for Microsoft. At the time, though, people thought they were crazy to "give" away their software, yet today, it is the software that effectively runs the world.

All because a smart entrepreneur thought to ask questions and devise a solution to a problem that no one realized they had.

What can you solve in your industry that allows you to capture market share in increase your company's reputation? I bet there are a number of places you can do it if you take the time to step outside of the solutions and understand the problems that your clients are having.

Published on: Oct 23, 2017