Dec 162011

Think outside the box and increase your profit potential

I have a friend who’s business is designing and making clocks – from scratch; he’s very skilled but limited in how he can expand his business due to the skills involved.  At another friend’s birthday party he was complaining about his lack of opportunities to move the business on and we got talking about how he could increase his profits and make his business more viable.  Here are a couple of small business ideas that came up.

Find the profitable niche.

Much of the time and most of the expense is in the making of a clock; so why not concentrate the business on clock design?  This would be a great way to have multiple projects on the go at the same time.  He already has a portfolio of designs that he has created over the years and these could be used as a great way of helping customers to buy into his creative vision.

Once commissions had been agreed on his clock designs he then has a choice; either let someone else build the clock or outsource the build and project manage the process.  The latter then gives him another opportunity to make a percentage on the final price and (importantly for him as an artisan) keep a degree of control over the finished product.  Once again he would be leveraging his position and having multiple projects on the go at once.

Get into the service industry.

Clock building and clock repairs aren’t that different and old clocks need to be maintained regularly.  Over a year he could build up quite a number of customers needing their clocks servicing (he lives in London) and then it’s just a matter of putting reminders in his diary to contact them all again a year later for simple repeat business.

Talk to people.

Many clubs and organizations have regular meetings where they have guest speakers attend to talk on different subjects.  Getting himself on the speaking circuit would be a great way to get himself known as a local expert in his field and from there the increased likelihood of gaining new commissions or maintenance work.  As most talks occur in the evening this would not impact on his working day.

An hour’s pleasant chat over a beer on a sunny afternoon make my friend realize that he had more options than he thought.  Like anyone running a small business today he needs to be a little more creative in his business ideas as well as his artistic ones but the possibilities are there.  Also, don’t forget to take time out of your business now and then to do a bit of thinking.  If you’re head down running a small business, ideas may get suppressed as you try to push ahead.  It’s important to step back now and then to review what’s going on.