In troubled economic times you may want to focus on what you know best to ensure the bills get paid, but don’t be afraid to diversify.
While admittedly there is more security in sticking with where your knowledge lies, some of the most successful brands throughout history have been those who took the chance to diversify. Diversification needn’t mean a complete change either. While Richard Branson clearly succeeded with the Virgin brand when he diversified from a record shop into airlines et al, there is always the half-way option; using your experience to make a short shift.
Notably, the world of food brands appear to have been doing this more and more in recent years. Cracker giant Ryvita have used their ‘knowledge’, of the ‘healthy eating’ sector to move into the to crisps and snacks sector, offering ‘healthy alternatives. Then there is Innocent, who made smoothies something for the mainstream and developed a brand that has since moved into the juice market and are now offering a vegetable snack pot range.
Meanwhile, the ice-cream and ice-lolly market has seen countless new ranges with established chocolate brands taking strong market-shares. There have of course been some failures, but many more successes. The key is that they have diversified, giving them another option if the market of their mainstay hit troubled times, but they have done so in an educated and perhaps cautious way, by only diversifying into areas they already had some expertise or knowledge in.
When considering whether to diversify or not, the important thing to remember is that nothing ever stays the same forever. The internet is a very different beast from that of ten years ago and has forced many to re-focus what they do and where they aim.
Meanwhile the world of print, newspapers and magazines is facing a similar conundrum being forced into digital media in an attempt to sustain and propel their brands forward. Even if you don’t diversify, you will need to develop and move on in some way and whilst you are doing that you may feel the step towards diversification is not actually that much further.
Perhaps, the biggest problems it that mentally we link diversification with ‘troubled economic times’. Is it that with backs to the wall, business minds become more creative and spend more time thinking out of the box? Possibly, but it is important to note that diversification at the ‘right time’ can often be when your main business is on a high. The chances are the success will take a dip at some point, and that is when a business that has already taken positive diversification steps will be better placed.
Have you diversified your main business? How did you do it?