Every client you connect with is another win when you’re in the risky and exciting venture of owning your own business. But as you grow, it might be time to take a hard look at your list of clients and see if you’re putting all your eggs in one basket.
If many of them are from the same industry-or if you notice they are all like you-it could be time to diversify your client base. Branching out into new segments might seem tough, but the effort is worth the benefits: independence from the fluctuations of a single industry and a chance to grow sales to existing and new customers. Step out of your comfort zone and into new industries by trying out some of the ideas below.
If you prefer connecting via social media, make a point to shake some hands in person at a networking event you usually wouldn’t go to. It could be for an industry you’d like to move into, or simply a different part of town you don’t normally work in. However, if your usual go-to move for getting new business is working a room, try getting online and joining different business groups on LinkedIn, responding to tweets in a different business area, or commenting on a Facebook page where your targets hang out.
Remember, the whole point is to meet people different from those that you’re used to doing business with. Go at your own pace and learn everything you can about the areas you want to work in.
Variety is the spice of life, and it’s also vital to your staff. Hiring people different from yourself--or your customers--will bring perspective to your business that would otherwise be lacking. A Millennial staffer will better understand what Millennial customers are looking for than Gen X staffers, and when different lines of thinking come together, the best solutions for diversifying your client base will come out. As a bonus, workplace diversity increases adaptability, ideas, and service range.
Reach out to companies that are complementary to yours that cater to clients in a different segment. Ask if you can give each other referrals, trade email lists, or speak at each other’s events. It’s an easy way to get your foot in the door of new industries, and to help out another business owner along the way.
Your work isn’t over after you’ve gained a few customers from an area outside of your normal niche. Make sure to look over your client list at least annually to make sure your business is spread out among a variety of segments.
If you’ve worked with the same type of clients for a long time, venturing out into uncharted business territory can be confusing. These techniques should help you find work in other areas to so you can put your eggs in more baskets.