Reducing business growth risk: Consider your existing relationships

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One of the greatest paradoxes in business is that too much money can be as harmful as too little. Success and massive amounts of cash can lead to overconfidence, wastefulness, and faulty assumptions that what worked for you in the past will continue in the future.

The other option, frugality, has challenges as well. You are constrained by the shortage of resources, including the money to pay for expert services. If you seem to lack enough resources to succeed, you likely will be brushed off or ignored.

Yet there is a middle ground, and here some cautious courage (I realize these words contradict) could be highly effective.

Say, you want to expand into a new market, or offer a new service. I would advocate you must have some evidence of demand and a crucial first order (or ideally a few orders) to make it happen.

Your most likely source for this initial business will be among your current super clients — the ones where you have excellent rapport, ongoing relationships, and shared values. And one where at least one of your clients has expressed a need, which, while outside your current business scope, is either within your competency or for which you can quickly obtain (without draining other resources) the competency you require.

If you don’t have a current client, can you joint venture or connect with another organization who does? (This model can be especially effective for specialized design and construction projects, where the optimal team would be a subject-area specialist with a partner with extensive local knowledge and contacts.)

This expansion model doesn’t require huge ramp-up costs, desperate searching for clients and the often extremely long process of building trust to escape the “low price wins the job” race to the bottom.

Sometimes the best growth opportunities are closest to your market home.

Do you have thoughts/experience in expanding your market scope? I welcome your comments by email to or as a comment here.

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