I must confess that I’m a creature of habit. I drive the same way to and from work each day, sit at my desk Monday through Friday and have coffee and yogurt for my breakfast while checking my morning emails and I’ve had a ham sandwich for lunch while working at my desk almost every day for the last twenty or so years. Yes a creature of habit. But in speaking with others I find that I’m not alone. The consensus is that there are so many things that can’t be controlled in life that there is some comfort in knowing that the things we can control are consistent. While there is nothing wrong with consistency in either our personal lives or work we may be missing out on opportunities when we stay within our comfort zone.
In the business world companies build their reputation around consistency. We as consumers want restaurants that have consistently good food, stores with consistently good service and cars that are consistently reliable. However, onsumers can become disenchanted quickly and companies must find new ways to entice us back to their product or service. That is why products are always advertised as newer, bigger, brighter, and better … a way to get a consumer back through the door one more time.
That approach may be fine for some industries but how does it play out for others and more specifically small firms in the marketplace. As a boutique firm in the real estate industry my company has much in common with other small firms. We try to consistently offer quality and value to a small niche of the marketplace. The niche is usually some area overlooked or unwanted by the larger firms. The niche is comfortable and provides an adequate profit so we don’t vary too far from it for fear that we make a mistake that will result in lost revenue or worse yet the failure of our business. As a result our firms never really grow and gain their full potential.
There is a saying, “you need to break a few eggs in order to make an omelet”. It can mean different things when used in different context but for the purposes of this blog it means that you must make a few mistakes in order to achieve new goals. For small businesses it means stepping outside the comfort zone into those uncharted waters where a mistake can be made. The best uncharted waters to venture into are those on the fringe edges of the larger competitors. It is the fringes that hold least interest to the larger competitor and because of their size the least profit so it usually goes un-noticed when smaller firms start to nibble away at their business. Remember a nibble to small firms is a large increase in business. While mistakes can and will be made with this approach there is little risk of hurting the small firms core business and much to gain if successful. Go ahead, break a few eggs and make an omelet.
For me, I might step out of my comfort zone and add a little cheese to my ham sandwich tomorrow.