Conventional wisdom advises entrepreneurs to "Think BIg!" when planning a business. It's hard to argue with that advice. After all, you'll never get very far in either business or in life, if you don't plan for big things.
But big isn't always better. Especially if you're at a point in your life when you don't want all the headaches associated with doing things in a big way. If your goal is to have a lifestyle-friendly business that generates a reasonable income (while still having lots of time to enjoy your life outside of work) than thinking small might be a better way to go.
So what exactly does "thinking small" mean when it comes to planning a business? It means thinking creatively. It means that instead of following the crowd and insisting that your customers need to buy a full-suite of services (whether they want them or not) you create a mini-version of what everyone else is offering.
Let me give you a real-life example of thinking small in action. Most wedding planners work on a per-project basis. They help with all aspects of planning the wedding from choosing the invitations to planning the honeymoon. It's a wonderful service. But it is expensive, and even among brides who can afford to pay, many prefer to plan their weddings themselves.
What if there was a different alternative? What if brides could only pay for the help they want?
I thought about this the other day when I saw a Groupon advertising a mini-version of a wedding planning service. Instead of offering the typical full-service package, this enterprising planner advertised a wedding rehearsal and "day-of" coordination service. She takes care of all the stress-producing logistics on the actual wedding day (in exchange for a reasonable fee) and the happy couple gets to relax and enjoy themselves.
I admired her creativity. By thinking outside the box of what is typical in her industry, she is providing a service that people want, need and will gladly pay good money for. Will she earn less per wedding than a full-service planner? Absolutely. But she might end-up with lots of clients who might otherwise never consider using a wedding planner at all. And from a work-life balance perspective, this is the type of business that is relatively easy to manage -- and enjoy.
You can appy this "think-small" strategy to lots of traditional business models. For example:
- Instead of offering a full interior design package that takes months to execute, you could sell a "design-in-a-day" or restaging service instead.
- If you like the idea of catering, but don't want to have to work evening and weekends, you could sell a gourmet brown-bag lunch service to local businesses -- or cater small office parties -- or sell custom cakes for special birthdays or... well, you get the idea.
- Instead of being a full-service consultant or coach who requires clients to sign on for a three-month minimum, you could offer a one-time laser-brainstorming session or a three-session business launch package.
Within every business, there are opportunities to re-think, re-package and re-design the traditional full-service model into smaller bite-size offerings. Give this some thought. If you do, you'll have an easier time standing out in the marketplace, your customers will appreciate the cost-savings and you'll have more time to enjoy your life and your business.