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By Troy C. of Rowan Sky and featured expert on Episode 4, Season 2. Find out more about Troy C.

"How do you cater to a new market when your product has been doing business with the same customers for years?"

When a company decides to attempt entry into a new market place after many years of doing business with the same client base, it has the potential to either take the business to a whole new level or can backfire tremendously and sometimes even crushing the already existing customer base. Considering a few things when taking the company outside of it's box can save a lot of grief and provide a clearer depiction on the best way to proceed. After 14 years in the shoe business, we have learned some of these things the hard way when they could have been avoided by some preplanning on execution of ideas.

  • Use focus groups when making changes to your usual business structure. If you don't have access to focus groups then try crowd sourcing through the internet. You would be amazed at how many people, designers, and other business groups will take the time to weigh in on your project, especially if they have the future potential to do business with your company. In the case of Viberg, we think they would have been better served by getting women's input on the product they were trying to create. It could have eased their process and possibly eliminated a few arguments about the best direction to take while creating the initial prototypes to enter the women's footwear business.
  • Be prepared to meet demand if the product or idea takes off. If you are not able to fulfil your customers needs, they will go elsewhere. In today's global marketplace, there is always somebody else who can fill the demand if you cannot.
  • If you are in need of financing to expand your company or brand, you must be prepared to demonstrate your business is scalable. Know your numbers, a clear depiction of your current customer base, and a realistic projection of where the company is going.
  • Be weary of family & friends opinions when it comes achieving honest input for your project. They are often more concerned with your feelings and want to be supportive. This can create a false sense of security in making a solid concept. Unless of course you are creating a concept for your family and friends. Then you must pray you have a lot of them to fulfil the business end of things.
  • Don't fall too in love with any idea or product because this will cloud your ability to look at it from a business perspective. Emotional decisions in business do not always pave the easiest path to growth.
  • If completely rebranding your existing product, be careful not to confuse your existing clients while trying to vie for new business through redevelopment of logo's, web-site, and customer demographic.
  • Make sure you have financial cushion to survive the lead time before the product or idea connects with your new market. Along with money, be prepared to commit the time and extra work to get the product/ idea off the ground. It's easy to get complacent when you've been doing the same routine for many years and you have to be ready to focus new energy to take you new company structure to whole new level.
  • The last thing is know when to say when. Because you might be passionate about your concept, it can be difficult to acknowledge that it just isn't taking off. This is when you are simply operating in survival mode and hoping the next day will be the day it all comes together. It is a slippery slope once you are going down this road and it can take it's toll on your family, your health, and your wallet.

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