I just got off the phone with a good customer who two years ago placed his first order and is now growing steadily. After thanking him for his business, which he expects to double next year, we began chatting. It turned out that he had been in our industry for over 15 years and had owned four galleries, selling limited editions and serigraphs.
Since my company didn’t sell limited editions, he hadn’t been a customer. But about two years ago, he discovered the world of truck jobbing, where he would manufacture wall decor, load up his truck, and make the rounds to furniture stores in his part of the country, selling his pictures at wholesale. He lamented, “I had no idea that such a business model even existed. Had I known this, I would have sold my galleries years earlier.”
Every industry is rich with opportunity and diversity. There are many different types of businesses in each industry, of many sizes, most of which are successful. But you’ll never know if you could be much happier (or much richer) using a different business model—if you don’t get out, look around, and learn.
- Get out of your office or shop, go visit retailers or distributors, and ask where they get their products from, and if there is need or room for another supplier.
- Get out of your office or shop and visit your customers and ask them about their needs and how you could garner more of their business if you did things differently.
- Get out of your office and visit your suppliers, and ask them who their best customers are and what their business models are.
- Get out of your office and join an industry organization so you can make friends in the industry and pick their brains for ideas.
- Get out of your office and spend time on the Internet to see what others in the industry are doing.
- Get out of your office and read the trade magazines that your customers (or prospective customers) are reading.
- Get out of your office and find a business to buy.
- Get out of your office and be curious, ask lots of questions, and keep an open mind.
- Get out of your office and educate yourself about your business environment. Even if no opportunity presents itself, you’ll be better able to recognize one when it comes down the pike.
So there you have it. Get out!
- Get out of your office and into the marketplace.
- Talk to people, and ask questions. Be curious.
- Investigate with an open mind, looking for new ideas or new realities that will give you clues about shaping your business.