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Six Tips for Small Business Owners Hoping to Expand Their Portfolios

Six Tips for Small Business Owners Hoping to Expand Their Portfolios

Rachel Beider is CEO of PRESS Modern Massage, and Canopy, a play and movement studio for babies, toddlers, and their grown-ups.

Although filled with many ups and downs, starting your own business comes with an indescribable sense of pride and achievement. After launching a successful company, many such small business owners feel pulled to continue expanding and providing their community with resources that may be lacking, filling gaps that serve unmet needs. As entrepreneurs, we are uniquely skilled in this realm. 

But shifting gears after launching one successful venture can be just as daunting as it was to take that first leap into the world of entrepreneurship – whether it’s figuring out what that new venture will be, how to overcome pain points that came up the first time (and foresee new ones), or how to cope with renewed pressure to succeed.

As I prepare to officially open the doors of my own second bootstrapped business this spring, here are six things I've learned that I hope will serve as actionable tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs: 

  1. Listen to what your community wants:
    • Seek out and connect with your target audience –– discuss their current pain points, what they’re craving or missing in the marketplace, and how you can best support them. Conduct informal focus groups and practice active listening. 
    • Keep in mind that your new business’s demographic may vary from that of your previous venture; you can’t always copy and paste key learnings from your first business to this new one. 
    • Understand what makes your new venture unique and make a plan with that in mind.
  2. Learn from past challenges (but know that new ones will still arise):
    • Conduct a full written audit of what went well, what didn’t, and what you would do differently. While new and unforeseen challenges are a normal part of any new business launch, reflecting on your past experience in a disciplined way will set you up for success. 
    • Build on your strengths, hire for your weaknesses. 
  3. Draw on your own experiences:
    • It’s likely that your new business is something close to your heart – if that’s the case, lean into it. Draw on your own existing frustrations with what’s currently available on the market, and make every attempt to individually address those points, as it’s likely others feel the same. 
    • Bringing your own passion and “why” to this new project will breathe life into it as it gets off the ground.
  4. Research trends:
    • There’s a reason trend forecasting has become a multi-million dollar industry. If you have a finger on the pulse of current trends in your space, use that to your advantage. If you aren’t sure where to start, subscribe to as many resources as you can from others in your space (newsletters, social media), and engage with user-friendly platforms like Google Trends to see what people are searching for. Your business may defy these current trends, or you may choose to fully lean into them – but knowing what they are is the first step.
  5. Bring in like-minded partners:
    • As your new venture is getting off the ground, align with other brands, services, and groups who think like you do. This can lead to fruitful, symbiotic relationships where you lift one another up (whether that means stocking a like-minded business in your store or venue, launching a co-branded partnership, or leaning on one another’s existing communities). This can also be a great way to grow your social media presence (whether through collaborative posts, giveaways, or features).
  6. Think outside the box:
    • One skill I encourage other entrepreneurs to hone is creative thinking; once you’ve determined the niche your business will fill or the pain point it will solve, it’s time to think creatively about the “how” – you don’t have to follow the same path as others in the space to arrive at your solution (and in fact, it may be beneficial not to). Figure out when and where you can do your most creative thinking, and spend time in that space.

If you take one thing from this advice, it’s the understanding that as neighborhoods, human interests, and the economy undergo fluctuations, your business needs to be flexible and a reflection of the times – acknowledge trends, what people are searching for, and what your community is asking for. If you listen, new ideas (and potential solutions) can land in your lap.

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