The thing that makes us successful is eventually the thing that holds us back.
The push to explore new horizons satisfies our need for ambition. But hopefully never at the cost of the opportunity that's right in front of us.
Ask business execs what they want for Christmas and most will say more customers.
On the surface, there's nothing wrong with that. Dig a little deeper, though, and we discover we're chasing the wrong thing.
First, avoid using the word 'customer.' Customers are here today and gone tomorrow. They are commodities with no love nor allegiance.
Better to use the word 'client.' The connotation is stronger and more endearing. We need only a thousand of them.
Second, and more importantly, it's wiser (and cheaper!) to find new products and services for existing clients than to spend precious resources finding new clients.
There was a time when Sony was king of the world. They had a string of hit products, including the Trinitron TV, the Walkman, and the CD player. But when the digital revolution started to take hold, Sony was slow to convert their analogue products into digital versions.
Why? Because Sony already had billion dollar businesses in place. They were complacent and chose to ignore what their clients truly wanted. It was the beginning of the end of Sony's reign.
The iPhone could have been / should have been a Sony.
So if you sell products, then consider selling services. In the IT world, this could mean selling hardware and software and then coupling those products with support services.
And if you sell services, then consider selling products. In the case of my wife's home cleaning business, this could mean selling a line of branded cleaning supplies.
One interesting route is online courseware. As a consultant, you are paid to do something - like build websites - for someone else. So in addition to performing services, you could show clients how to do it themselves.
This approach is much more scalable since the course is a digital product. And it eventually gives you the financial flexibility to 3x your consulting fee, thus shrinking the pool of your consulting clients to people who have money AND value quality while reducing your overall dependence on trading your time for money. See example course.
Like all relationships, what really matters is whether we are first trying to understand.
In business, we spend so much time helping people understand what it is we do...But the important question is how much time do we spend helping them feel understood by us.