Years of business ownership taught me the value of going deeper before you go wider and broaden your offering.
Although I think that it important to push ourselves and sometimes leap before we feel totally comfortably, I prefer to do what I'm doing brilliantly before expanding.
It's something I don't think I achieved in my first business, although that was somewhat deliberate, as we embraced experimentation and sometimes allowed demand to influence the direction of the business.
The breadth of work didn’t make the business less successful, but over time it didn’t suit me so well personally. And I now wonder whether constantly increasing the breath of a business works as well in the longterm as it does for a young business; it makes sustainable and consistent delivery more difficult.
The risks of broadening your offering too soon
To go wider is to stretch yourself, and if you do that too soon you risk being stretched too thin. And before you know it, that can lead to feelings of insecurity, stress and overwhelm. This is a particular risk if you run your business solo, as it's all on you. If you have a business partner or team, at least you can share the load and bounce ideas, problems and solutions off each other.
You've got to be mindful if you do choose to take this approach: you need to ensure you have the capacity and the emotional resilience to handle the busier, stressful periods. You need to build in some clear boundaries to protect your personal life and relationships as much as possible.
There are also practical business risks in going wider before you're really ready. Without the appropriate capacity, it might lead to missed deadlines, or overpromising and underdelivering. It also might mean more clients in the short term but if you’re stretched too thin, client retention might be difficult.
And finally, going wider before you're ready, because you think you should, can also take away the enjoyment of your work. Don't let your ego or the promise of shiny new projects take away from maintaining that enjoyment. Otherwise, we might as well all give up our businesses now and just work for someone else.
The value of going deeper
By going deeper before you go wider, you acknowledge and explore the value or what you've already created. You truly make the most of and maximise what you have started.
This allows you to become an expert in your field, improving your skills before learning new ones. You do the things you set out to do, staying present, rather than getting distracted by new opportunities. Which means that ultimately, you enjoy yourself much more.
You can then grow when you're truly ready.
I am leaning into this principle. Within a few months of creating Be Stubborn I was asked if I'd consider launching a podcast to spread the message. This was something I had thought about, but my answer at that point was 'no'. In part, because I wasn’t sure of what value I could add to that marketplace at that time. And I really wanted to nail what I was doing at the time before embarking on something new.
At that time, I was still refining my purpose and message, finding my voice and developing my skills. I was loving that process and didn’t want to rush it.
That’s not to say that I advocate for an easy, comfortable life. Sometimes we need to take a leap of faith and embrace some discomfort, but it is ok to pace ourselves. And that podcast might still happen, when I am ready!
Ask yourself: what do you want from your business?
Before you do things because 'everyone else is', because you think that you should, or because someone suggests that you could, take a moment to think about what you're already doing. Are you really ready to go wider? Or are you still developing your current position?
It also helps to check in with your values, and ask yourself what you want from your business. For me, that includes:
a business that offers connection and fulfilment;
producing valuable and high-quality content;
fewer followers with a strong rate of engagement, and good sense of community;
just a handful of clients who want to work with me time and time again, rather than thousands of subscribers who I just sell, sell, sell to.
And don't forget that it's ok to keep the day job while you build your business. It can take the pressure off you financially, and allow your business to grow slowly and sustainably: a true example of going deeper, not wider. This avoids stretching yourself too soon and losing your way due to financial pressures.
There's no need to rush to start your 'next big thing'. Wait until you feel ready - you'll know in your gut. It's ok to slow down and focus on making what you already do even better first.
The truth is that better is better!