Why would two companies in the same industry with the same financial performance have different values? The answer often comes down to how much each business is likely to grow in the future.

A lot of successful businesses reach a point where their growth starts to slow as the company matures. In fact, the price of doing a great job carving out a unique niche is that the specialty that made you successful can start to hold you back.

If you make the world’s greatest $5,000 wine fridge, you may have a successful, profitable business until you run out of people willing to spend $5,000 to keep their wine cool.

The future growth of your company is one of the keys to getting the highest value when you sell.

For ideas on how to expand past your initial niche, consider speaking with your business advisor or looking into the Ansoff Matrix, a strategic planning tool first published in 1957 that is still used by many business owners today.

Sometimes called the Product/Market Expansion Grid, the Ansoff Matrix shows four ways that businesses can grow, and it can help you think through the risks associated with each option.

Imagine a square divided into four quadrants representing your four growth choices, which include selling…

  1. existing products to existing customers,
  2. new products to existing customers,
  3. existing products to new markets, and
  4. new products to new markets.

The choices above are presented from least to most risky. In a smaller business, with few dollars to gamble, it pays to focus your attention on the first two options.

Existing products to existing customers 

Some trepidation is natural when you return to the same customers, but your best customers are usually the ones who know you and are pleased to find out that you – someone they trust – are offering something they need.

For example, Greg is a hardware store owner who came to understand the Ansoff Matrix. Greg earns a 150% markup on cutting keys, but his cutter was hidden in a corner of the store where nobody could see it. As a result, he didn’t cut many keys. One day, Greg decided to move the key cutter and position it directly behind the cash register so regular patrons could see the machine. Customers started seeing the cutter and realized – often to their pleasant surprise – that Greg cut keys. Because of this, Greg started selling a lot more keys to his loyal customers. The key cutter didn’t woo many new customers, but it did increase his overall revenue per customer.

If you want to sell more of your existing products to your existing customers, draw up a simple chart of your products and services. Don’t be afraid to dust off old products that you haven’t paid much attention to lately. List your best customers’ names down one side of the paper and your products across the top. Then cross-reference your customer list with your product list to identify opportunities to sell your best customers more of your existing products.

New Products to Existing Customers 

Another approach to growth is to sell new products to existing customers.

For example, there is a BMW dealership owner in the Midwest whose typical customer is a family patriarch in his forties. When he felt like he had saturated the market for well-heeled forty-something men in his trading area, he thought about what other products he could sell his existing customers. But instead of defining his customer as the forty-something man, he decided to think of his customer as the financially successful family and his market as their driveway.

Instead of trying to sell more BMW’s, he bought a Chrysler dealership so he could sell minivans to the spouses of his BMW buyers. He then realized that a lot of his customers had kids in their teens, so he bought a Kia dealership to sell the family a third, inexpensive car.

The Bottom Line

Once you become successful, it can be tempting to sit back and enjoy your success. But in order to drive up the value of your business, you need to be able to demonstrate how you can grow, and the least risky strategy will be to figure out what else you could sell to your existing customers.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash