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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Find your core

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Lately I've had meetings and conversations with new and experienced business owners who wanted advice to help them grow. They differ greatly in terms of their businesses and their experience, but the one thing they all had in common was the challenge to keep it simple. They all wanted to take on too much at once, to offer more services than necessary or to market themselves in a way that would confuse customers.

This is a common challenge for those of us who can do many things and often need to in order to survive. But it can also serve to diminish our success.  I once coached a business owner who wanted to open a picture framing business and gallery. He dreamed of a large space right on the main drag in a busy community. But that space came with a cost a pricey one. The dream was quickly extinguished when he crunched the numbers and realized he could not frame enough work in one month to cover this rent. So he scaled back and found a less expensive space on a side street. As his business grew over the years, he was eventually able to 'trade up' to a larger, more visible space and add his gallery to his offerings. His dream did eventually come true one step at a time.

The key to success in business is to figure out what your core is your foundation, your 'lane' - and focus on that first. It's far better to become known for doing one thing very well than known for doing a lot of things sort of well. Once you establish a reputation for quality, service and excellence doing that 'thing you do,' then you can begin to think about expanding beyond that. Cash flow wise, you may need to offer several products or services to make your business work. But they need to be part of your 'core' business. Frankly, if you can't make your business cash flow that way, you may want to re-think your business.   

You also don't want to confuse your customers. If you're trying to be all things to all people, you will lose people. Keep it simple. Keep it consistent. Keep it great - and you will keep customers!  

If you aren't sure what your 'core' is or what it should be, then ask others! We are often just too close to our own businesses to see the big picture. We don't often really know how others perceive us. Before you go about starting, expanding or marketing your business, conduct some informal research and find out what others think you are best at doing, what the market needs from you and focus there. When it comes to success in business, we have to learn to walk and walk well - before we can run.

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