All too often we forget about what’s on our doorstep and take it all for granted. Whether it’s the lure of holidays abroad, travel to other cities for a break, or even the temptation to spread our net and find customers out with the local area.

I know I’ve been seduced by this myself on many occasions travelling abroad only to be disappointed to find the same shops, a lack of cultural sites, and mediocre scenery. Some places are cultural as well as real deserts, only there to cater to the northern European sunseeker who cares more about getting brown than having a different cultural experience.

When the sun shines in Scotland there is no better place to be. And why bother with London when we have so much cultural heritage in Scotland. Even if you spend every day for the next year in cultural pursuits you wouldn’t scratch the surface of the arts projects, galleries, or historical sites. Not bad for a population the size of London!

I’ve done the same in business too, spending time travelling to Aberdeen and Edinburgh to build a clientelle when, in truth, my time would be better spent much closer to home. Now don’t get me wrong I have great clients in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and even London and I love going to visit them. But I no longer network in these areas and I am careful to take on only very good clients there that come by referral.

Sometimes you can expend a lot of energy trying to spread yourself too thin by aiming at too many areas or even a different market. Whereas if you really got into the mind of your customers closer to home or in your existing market you could make a lot more profit for a lot less effort.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expand if your business is working and is profitable. But it does mean if your current business model isn’t working then it won’t necessarily get better by moving into another market or area. It probably means you have to look at your offering, your prices, your customer service and see if you’re really addressing the needs of your customer at the right price for what you’re providing.

I see it all the time, business owners who are not making enough money in their business. Instead of putting their efforts into getting their business to work they prefer to start another business, or move into another area, or try yet another market segment. A couple of years down the line they’re still not making much profit, but they’ve managed to grow their turnover and now have to work seven days a week instead of the ‘normal’ six!

As entrepreneurs working in our business it’s difficult for us to find the easy solutions to our problems. We’re also easily seduced by the next ‘shiny’ thing that comes along promising to distract us from the actual task at hand.

Having an outside group you can depend on, like the mentoring groups we run, makes it easy to tap into those solutions and be held accountable for taking action on them too. It’s a great feeling being able to provide solutions for other people too!

So if you find yourself thinking about a new product or service or moving into another area ask yourself “is my business model already working where I am?” If not you may just be chasing the next shiny new business idea and not solving the problem you have.

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