With the New Year staring us small business owners square in the face, we should all be contemplating how to make our companies bigger and better than they were in 2012. Sometimes that means becoming more efficient. Sometimes it means implementing a stronger marketing plan. And sometimes it means learning how and when to tap into new markets.

Breaking into a new market is easier said than done. After all, if growth were so easy, you’d have probably just started out as a mega-corporation instead of wasting time with all of this small business stuff, right? Before you dive in, prepare yourself mentally. Working in a negative headspace is a really bad idea. But once you’re motivated and dedicated to breaking into exciting new markets, you can start with these steps.

1. Determine which alternative markets can help you increase revenue.

You can begin by talking to your customers. Ask them what product or service additions would make their lives easier. Then ask yourself if you’re capable of providing those things. Even if those ideas don’t move you directly into a new market, they can serve as a launching pad for new business plans.

2. Experiment.

If you’ve got an idea, why not test the waters first? There are a couple of ways to get your feet wet with a new business project. You can make your new product or service available to a limited number of customers in the initial stages. And, although, we know many owners can’t afford to work for free, pro-bono projects are another alternative for giving your new idea a trial run.

3. Promote your expansion.

After you’ve dedicated yourself to the launch, it’s time to promote your expansion. Announce your growth into new markets as you would any other launch, and get the word out to your customers, social media followers, blog readers, and newsletter subscribers. People need to be introduced to the new items you offer, and a great way to do this is to offer a sampling of what is available. You might consider giving current customers a taste of what you offer with their next purchase or offering a preview to leads who sign up for updates on your website. There are a lot of options for promoting your company’s expansion.

4. Establish yourself as a leader and expert in your new market.

When you grow into new markets, you shouldn’t treat the expansion as secondary to your main business or maintain an attitude of indifference toward its success or failure. Do not give off the vibe that you still have the rest of the business to fall back on if the expansion doesn’t work, because you may not. Never give your customers cause to doubt your dedication to your work.

Tapping into new markets is a double-edged sword. On the one side, you might be eager to try out new ways to increase your market share and generate more revenue. On the other, you may be intimidated about the risks involved with breaking into the unknown. But without calculated risks, it’s virtually impossible to grow.


Image credit: Leonardini