The Right Way to Evolve Your Small Business’s Signature Product

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Is your small business synonymous with a single product or a set of products designed for a specific use? If this is the case, it can be a tricky business to alter and evolve your product(s). On the one hand, every business needs to continually improve to keep pace with changes in the industry and society in general. At the same time, you don't want to completely depart from what your customers expect, and count on, from you. Finding the right balance is essential. Here are some guidelines on how to evolve your signature product the right way.

The Principle of Organic Growth

Organic growth means a few different things. In the business world, it usually means growing your company using its own resources rather than relying on outside investments, mergers, or acquisitions. This is consistent with the way most small to mid-size businesses grow. If we take this idea and apply it a little more broadly, we see that organic growth is also consistent with building your business in a customer-centered manner. When you're relying on your own resources to grow, the best place to look for guidance is your customers or clients. In this sense, organic also means staying consistent with your principles and the original vision for your business. Let's further explore how important it is to stay in touch with your customers' needs.

Respond to Your Customers' Needs

You don't want to change your products simply for the sake of making changes. You only do this to better serve your customers. This, in turn, helps you succeed and grow your business. You can learn a great deal about this principle by looking at how some of the most successful large companies do it. A good example is Amazon, a business that started off selling books. Now, it's one of the world's largest retailers of all types of products. What's really interesting to note, however, is the way Amazon has introduced one popular innovation after another.

If you look at Amazon's most successful innovations of recent years, such as Prime, streaming music and video and same-day delivery, they were all based on customer demand. By speeding up delivery service, Amazon solved one of the main complaints customers had with online retail - waiting a long time for delivery. All businesses that want to grow need to similarly look at their industry and customers' demands and look for ways to fill these needs.

Tips for Evolving Your Products

When you're ready to make changes and evolve your products, keep these guidelines in mind.

  • Make changes based on customer feedback. They may complain about certain features that are lacking or that don't work as well as they'd like. Don't simply wait for complaints, though. Ask your customers questions with surveys and post-sales follow-ups. 
  • Don't fall behind the competition. If you notice that competitors are passing you by in certain areas, this is a sign that it's time to make changes. Don't wait for your customers to abandon you. 
  • Know when it's time to scale your business. If you want to expand your business, you may have to improve your products or services or add new ones. For example, if you run an online business, you may initially handle many tasks such as processing orders and managing social media pages manually. At some point, however, you'll have to start automating many tasks.
  • Stay loyal to your original customers. Even if some of your customers welcome or even demand change, others may like things just as they are. You can't always please both groups, but do your best. For example, many supermarkets now offer self-checkout to satisfy customers who want to avoid checkout lines. Yet many customers still prefer traditional checkout, even if it means waiting on lines. In the future, all checkout may be automated. For now, however, they co-exist. 

It's always challenging to improve and evolve your products while staying true to your brand and customers. At the same time, you can't avoid the rapid pace of change if you want to succeed and keep growing. The best you can do is to plan for growth and evolution in response to your customers' genuine needs. 

To learn more about how Act! can help your own business evolve visit act.com