This blog was written by guest writer Jan Cohen.
Today we venture up the Risk Chart to explore New Markets for Existing Services or Products. The focus is on researching who else could use, and pay for, what you already provide.
This is riskier because these are markets/people you do not know and may have different expectations for features, quality, location, etc. No two places or groups are the same. You need to very diligently ask about, listen to, and explore their service or product expectations. You need to understand the “success factors” for these groups, both from these markets directly and, just as importantly, from competitors or others with experience providing this or a similar service to this customer group. However, your experience in operating the service or business has given you the knowledge of the key elements of operations and the ability to forecast whether you could make the needed changes to be successful with this new market customer.
• You conduct needs assessments and evaluations of programs and initiatives for a County and expand to doing similar work for foundations, statewide entities, individual or groups of nonprofits.
• You do trainings for employees or Gov’t funded or other nonprofit child care providers. You add trainings for in home child care providers, group home staff, or anyone who needs these classes for Licensing.
• You offer the Mental Health services you’ve always provided to seniors, middle school children, or in Spanish, Mandarin, or Tagalog.
• You provide your core competency, legal services for seniors, but with a sliding rate scale to other seniors in your communities who do not meet low income requirements, and/or for their children who are advising them. You expand to provide such services in a culturally competent manner to families in other languages or to other groups including those with family members with disabilities.
If you’ve explored or “mined” these areas of the risk chart and had success, you may be ready for the highest risk area of our Risk Chart: New Service/Business for New Customers/Markets. Because both the business and the markets are “unknown” to you, this is where the greatest chances of misinterpreting market research and making key planning and operations mistakes occurs. Get that track record first! If your first venture fails, staff and Board confidence is low and you may not try again. Advice: Stay with the “low hanging fruit” or stay with what and who you know for the greatest success and less sleepless nights.
Jan Cohen has been a consultant, trainer, and social enterprise practitioner working in and with nonprofit organizations for more than 25 years, focusing on earned income strategies and business venture market research and development, start up, growth and management. FMI LinkedInor email.