Entrepreneurs know first-hand the challenges that small businesses face in achieving sustainable growth. One of the advantages we have at Haefele Flanagan as a trusted advisor is “perspective”, being able to objectively see the overall picture. Often, the big thing holding back small businesses boils down to a fundamental issue: losing focus on their core market.

Picture a dartboard with a bull’s eye representing your ideal customers—those who resonate deeply with the problem your business solves. These customers are not just buyers; they become your advocates, spreading the word about your offerings.

The problem arises when businesses start to chase growth in the wrong places. In their quest for expansion, they begin to cater to customers slightly outside the bull’s eye. While these customers may also benefit from the product or service, they often require tweaks or customizations. This can lead the business down a slippery slope of constant adjustments, ultimately diluting the original offering.

Why does this happen? For many small businesses, especially those with limited resources, the initial focus is on survival. They rely heavily on word-of-mouth and referrals, which can pull them away from their core market. These businesses are often eager to please and may make changes to accommodate new customers, even if they are slightly off-target.

However, each tweak for a new customer outside the bull’s eye is like changing the instructions for tying your shoes. It disrupts the flow and can result in substandard products or services. Customers receive these offerings with less enthusiasm, leading to dissatisfaction and potentially damaging the business’s reputation.

Moreover, constantly adjusting to cater to customers outside the core market can create a dangerous dependency on the founder. When the business relies too heavily on the founder’s involvement, it limits the company’s ability to scale. The founder only has so many hours in a day, and the business can only grow as much as the founder’s time allows.

To avoid this plateau and achieve sustainable growth, small businesses must stay disciplined in serving customers within their bull’s eye. This means resisting the temptation to chase revenue from customers who don’t fit the ideal profile, no matter how enticing the short-term gains may seem.

Instead, focus on deeply understanding your core market. What are their pain points? How can your business uniquely solve their problems? By staying true to your bull’s eye, you can refine your offerings, build a strong reputation within your niche, and create a sustainable path for growth. Stay disciplined in serving your core market, and watch your business thrive.

Your HFCO team is available if you’d like to discuss this further. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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