Categorized | Business


The Secret Sauce for Failure

By Tom Irmen

Every small business owner understands that flops and successes, whether modifying an existing product or service or introducing an entirely new product or service, are inevitable. No business is immune. But there are steps that we as small business owners can take that will reduce the potential for failure.

As a starter, reinventing yourself may not be as great an idea as you might think. If you have an established, branded product or service that represents the cornerstone of your business, eliminating or significantly modifying that product or service could prove to be disastrous.

If you think you can successfully transition from cupcakes to bagels, or totally eliminate the sugar in your cupcakes in favor of artificial sweeteners, you’d likely discover that you’re wrong. You might successfully expand your product line by offering bagels or cupcakes containing artificial sweeteners to your existing product mix, but eliminating the product and service upon which your brand has been built is a recipe for failure.

Another decision to avoid is combining dissimilar products and services. Having said this, however, I was surprised to learn that a New York City business successfully combined cupcakes (as long as I’m on the cupcake scenario) with wine. But I have to believe that this is the exception. Cupcakes and oil changes would likely have produced far different results.

What I’m encouraging you to do is to explore products and services that will complement your existing branded products and services, potentially increasing sales within your current customer base or that might help you to expand your appeal to a broader customer base.

Finally, and the main ingredient in the secret sauce for failure, is a decision to not act at all or to be on the threshold of a decision and fail to act because of your fear of failure. New products and services and enhancements to existing products and services and, yes, this includes your flagship products and services, can become the catalyst for success and the lifeblood of any small business that hopes to thrive in the future. And keep in mind that although you may elect not to act, it’s likely that your competitor will.

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