Sometimes, your lead clients will push you to develop skills in areas that may become new specializations for your business. But you need to be ready for that to happen.
When a sea of clients started beating a path to the doors of my business asking for social and mobile apps, it wasn’t a happy accident that we already had skills and capabilities in the social media sector. We’d planned to expand our offering in this arena, having already completed a range of work in the field. When those clients started knocking on the door, we were ready to roll.
How can you prepare yourself in advance of these kinds of market trends? The approach we take with testing out new areas of business is, first, to find ways that we can dip our toes in the water. Then, if we believe we can deliver in that market space, we work out how we can create a talent bank of team members to deliver on the projects we’ll aim to win.
Around five years ago, we could see that the social web was going to be a big deal. Back then, we dipped our toes into the water by finding some strong lead clients who we could work with to build our capabilities. Then, when the tsunami of social web work finally hit, and businesses were looking for providers with experience in the field, we’d be their obvious choice.
When we were preparing our budgets for that year, we anticipated that the social media space would be heating up. So when we made our good year, great year, and outstanding year predictions, we anticipated the staffing and skill requirements we’d have in each case. Then, when the tsunami of work did hit, we had contingency plans we could go to for finding great talent, meeting our clients’ needs, and growing our business as planned.
Testing the Water
With other ideas, or market spaces, which we call our irons in the fire—we believe they have potential, but we’re unsure if they’ll emerge strongly in the next twelve months—we consider our existing team and identify who should be skilled up in those areas. We then go out and seek lead clients who can work with us in those areas, and will let us cut our teeth. Then, if one of those irons in the fire does start to heat up, we have talent to meet the demand in the interim while we look at ways in which we could resource and develop that area of our business.
It’s important to think long-term as you identify likely areas for expanding your business. While 85% of our focus will be on the business of today, we still spend time looking to future growth drivers for our business, and work out how we can experiment in the space through lead client relationships.
In the next two or three years, how do you think the game will change for the field in which your business operates?
Peter Williams authored the new edition of SitePoint’s popular Web Design Business Kit – which will equip you with the business skills required to turn your talents into a successful, thriving business. Check it out!