Welcome to almost spring! With any luck the snow is finally melting and turning your backyard into a slushy mudpile you won’t want to walk in for a month. The birds are returning to peck holes into the side of your home, your friendly neighborhood bears are coming out of hibernation, and any Southerners reading this are understandably confused. (“Slushy? Did someone spill a snowcone somewhere?”) On a personal note, my wife and I are already pregnant with our third child – we skipped the second one since we’ve been told that second children are always challenging – and our 1-month old is already starting to demand things without any interest in giving us anything back in return. He’d better make me some really amazing pinchpots when he gets older, I’ll tell you that right now.
Anyway, I’ve always felt that March is the month where we finally and fully realize that we actually have to work hard again. The end-of-year rush is well behind us, taxes are approaching, and eventually somebody is going to soon remind you that you do have sales goals you’re obligated to at least try and meet. Besides, you’re going to need a little extra cash to bail your kids out of whatever debauchery they get caught up in during Spring Break. (My brother once got stitched up for $8 by a street doctor in Jamaica after one of his Spring Break misadventures. True story, and hilarious.)
So in an effort to help you and your business earn an extra $8 you might not have earned otherwise, here are a few creative ways to grow that don’t involve raising prices or magically finding more customers for your products.
Team Up With A Non-Competing Business
I went to college with the niece of Dave or Buster (I can never remember which) of the eponymous Dave & Buster’s, a restaurant/arcade/bowling/dining/entertainment chain that in 2016 earned around $1 billion in revenue. That’s a lot of tokens, and it all started when the owner of a pizza parlor (Buster) and the owner of a video arcade (Dave) noticed that a lot of their customers were the same. They joined forces, and now they are doing just freaking fine. So consider analyzing the other businesses in your market, or even the role your current vendors could play in an expansion. There’s no reason for you to build the entire wheel yourself if someone else is already halfway there.
Compete on a Different Aspect of Business
I recently hired probably the best contractor I’ve ever hired for some renovation work on my house. Over the years I’ve hired a couple dozen, and I used to be a carpenter myself, so I can appreciate how the process works. They almost always compete on price – whoever submits the lowest bid is going to get the work. That’s a fine way to do things, but it means that the only way to grow is to continually get more and more work. In this case, however, my contractor showed up on time every day and explained what he was going to do, what he was doing while he was doing it, and what he had done once he had finished. That is not normal in my experience; in fact, just showing up on time on a regular basis put him well ahead of more than half the people I’ve hired in the past. I told him that if he chose to compete on service (timeliness, excellent communication, easily adaptable to changes in plans, etc.) rather than solely on price, he would probably be able to charge a higher hourly rate that many people would be happy to pay in order to not wonder if their contractor was ever going to show up in the morning. So think about how you’re marketing yourself, and whether or not there’s another way you can distinguish yourself from your competition.
Figure Out What Else You Can Do With Your Experience
Delta began as a company that purchased airplanes and then loaded them with pesticides for crop control in rural Georgia. For eight years that’s all they did. Then someone realized their planes could just as easily carry people as they could carry chemicals, and now Delta is ginormous. If you’ve been in business for a while, then there’s a good chance you’ve slowly gained some skills that could finally be monetized. This is one I can speak to from personal experience, as we’ve recently started offering web and video marketing services to a surprising number of eager customers. We’ve been marketing ourselves for so long that it turns out we’ve accidentally learned how to help others market themselves as well. And I’d bet anything that you have some untapped earning potential sitting right there in front of you, buried inside the things you’ve been doing for years.
Hope that helps make this March the best and slushiest ever. And if you have some really amazing pinchpots lying around that you don’t want anymore, please consider sending them to me. I want my son to know the kind of quality I’m soon going to expect out of him. Seriously, he’s been freeloading for long enough now.