The reach of GM was far and wide– from shops that provided parts to the local deli where employees picked up lunch in addition to hundreds of other small businesses that provided services to support the personal and professional lives of those who worked there. I grew up in Lansing, Michigan so I’ve seen first hand the impact that GM can have on a city. Hundreds of people I knew over the years worked for GM. It will never be the same.
We’ve been down this road before. In recent years we’ve dealt with major industry impacts such as:
- The 9/11 tragedy that crippled the travel and hospitality industry.
- The housing and construction industry fall out.
- The downturn in the recruiting industry.
- The collapse of the financial and banking business.
The good news is that change brings new opportunity — laid off employees turn into accidental entrepreneurs and innovative small businesses seize the chance to test a new product or service in a different industry or change their business model radically. Many will survive and thrive.
To be successful, you have to be prepared. If your small business relies on one industry or one niche for most - or all - of its revenue, your business is at risk. It’s easy to get caught up in success that seems like it will go on forever. But, as we’ve seen with GM, even those companies we “thought” would always be around are susceptible to failure. You must face the reality of your business situation and ensure your survivability by diversifying.
Take a look at your revenues. If more than fifty percent of your revenue is from one company, you are at risk. Now is the time to change that situation by brainstorming new and different possibilities for your business. Here are some ideas.
Evaluate Current Products or Services
Examine your entire offering of products and services. Make a list of what you sell to whom. Decide whether you are “filling the need” or if there are gaps in what you are offering with your product or service line. Determine whether you can easily (and inexpensively) leverage a best selling item or create a spin off that would entice your customers to buy more or bring more customers on board.
Review Target Markets
Look at the characteristics of your current target market. Is there another lateral market that is similar? Find a way to adapt what you already sell to a different market segment.
Tap Into Current Trends
Two of the biggest trends right now are the “green” market and the “do it yourself - DIY” market. Look at your current offerings to see how you can adapt then to capitalize on the popularity of these trends.
Whatever you decide to do, if your small business is focused on a single industry don’t consider yourself safe. History has proven that there is no such thing as a safe industry. You should always be on the lookout for opportunities to diversify your business so you can sustain it well into the future.
How about you? Have you diversified your business? Has your company taken a hit from the recent economic conditions? What have you done to help your company survive? Let’s talk about this issue. Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
About the Author: Denise O’Berry is a small business expert who provides tools, tips and advice to help small business owners be successful. O’Berry is the author of Small Business Cash Flow: Strategies for Making Your Business a Financial Success.” Her blog can be found at Just for Small Business.