“If it Ain’t Broke…”: the Temptation to Change Your Business

Oftentimes, it seems to me that businesses go through a cycle.  When they start out, they have a very clear vision of where they want their business to end up–what “success” would look like.  With that vision in mind, they make all of the preliminary decisions for the business, such as naming and branding, and then apply those things to their marketing.  If their product or service is a good one, word starts to spread, and they start to become more and more successful.  Then, something interesting often happens.  A client comes along who challenges them to go outside of the box of what they originally envisioned for their business.  If things go well with this “out-of-the-box” client, and a second and a third client who asks for something a little different, then the business owner(s) might start to question their original vision and wonder if they need to change it.

This is a tough decision that needs to be approached very carefully.  Here are some questions that I think need to be considered before completely changing the brand, product, and/or service of one’s business:

 

  • What is the end goal of my business?
  • If I make the said changes, does it end up affecting the end goal in any way?  And if so, do I like how that looks, or do I still like my original vision better?
  • Is there a way that I could somehow fit these “exceptions” into my current business setup, or am I going to have to completely change my focus?
  • Where is the majority of my business coming from (and is that how I want it to be)?
  • How long has my business been around for?  Do I need to give it a little bit more of a chance before I make drastic changes?

 

These may sound very theoretical, but I think they could be applied nicely to a wide range of business types.  The truth of the matter is, a business simply cannot be everything to everyone.  Sometimes, business owners have to make tough choices in order to stay along the lines of their original vision.  In other scenarios, however, it can be more beneficial to step back and look at what is working, and what the business is best at.  Perhaps it isn’t exactly what the owners pictured at the beginning, and perhaps that’s okay.  It is hard to predict exactly what is going to happen along the way.  In this kind of a situation, making some changes might be the smartest thing to do.

If your business is doing really well under the current model, and is in line with your original end goal, then it might just be an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” scenario.  Keep doing what works, without getting stagnant, of course.  Change can be a very good and helpful thing, but if used too liberally, it can make a business appear weak and not long-lasting.  People need to get the sense that a business knows where it is going and is focused on that.

If you do feel it would be smart to change some things, I’m not saying you’re wrong.  Just take a little while to think it over and ask yourself the questions above.  I would also recommend talking to people that you trust, who have been involved in some way with the business from the beginning.  Sometimes an objective, outside opinion is the absolute best thing.  The key is to always be open to change, but to keep your eye on the prize at the same time.  Easier said than done, but a crucial mindset for a business owner.