To be the master or jack?

To be the master or jack?

Learning & Development

Roshan Dsouza

Roshan Dsouza

259 week ago — 6 min read

Background: What is the secret to continued business growth in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world? Should businesses focus on one offering or diversify their portfolio? In his previous article Roshan Dsouza shared why businesses must go beyond profits to cement their place in the market and the hearts of their customers. Here he opines that small businesses must retain the flexibility and foresight to diversify and reimagine their offerings to maintain a competitive advantage.

“Be the master of one rather than a jack of all”, this is an old saying that we were taught when we were growing up.

But today business has a different requirement for success. We have an idea, we check the implementation and finances, and we start a business.

The start of the business is with a product or service that is the need of consumers. But somewhere along the way, revenue becomes the most important measure of success and we fail to see the bigger picture.

Over the years, businesses have learnt to either hedge their risks by adding more products and services to their offerings or start new brands and companies to make a larger profit.


Diversification of portfolio: Key to growth?
Over the years, businesses have learnt to either hedge their risks by adding more products and services to their offerings or start new brands and companies to make a larger profit.

A lot of the home-grown business conglomerates like Reliance, TATA, Infosys, Flipkart, OLX are some examples where you can find them increasing their profitability by dipping their offerings into a range of products and services.

While this is possible for growing businesses or for larger organisations, why do startup companies and MSMEs not see the writing on the wall in their business journey?

Many MSMEs today often struggle to stay afloat and more importantly struggle to keep their customers happy. What if they extended their offerings to their customers for another service which is a need in the respective industry? Offer a one-stop-shop for the customer?

Also read: Win them with your product, keep them with your service


Evolving offerings to capture market share
Many businesses have already started to expand their horizon of offerings and are giving customers a range of services, in addition to the range of products they started out with.

Let me explain this with an example. This is a trend I have seen in my city, Mumbai. In the early 70s and 80s, there were restaurants that would serve single cuisines in their outlets. Slowly these have transformed to multi-cuisine restaurants. The customer can choose from multiple cuisines at a single restaurant. This allows the customer to mix and match their meal with the menu of their choice.

Then came the era of malls, with many outlets serving various cuisines. Customers prefer to eat at malls because of the larger variety that is available through different brands. Even though they still have the option of eating at multi-cuisine restaurants, they prefer to go to malls and the footfalls here are steadily increasing.

The offering was not a subjective thought, it evolved with the need of the customer changing and developing further.

Then came the age of apps, with Zomato, Swiggy, Ubereats grabbing space for home delivery services. Customers can now choose from a variety of cuisines in the comfort of their homes. There is no need to wade in the traffic and wait for the order to be served in a restaurant, they can have it at ease at home, at the time of their convenience.

The same industry is facing a challenge like no other, and their own production and delivery model is creating a new buzz for the customer. Not that the taste of the food has changed, but the method of preparation and delivery to the customer has been evolving.

I am not sure what the customer will need in the future, but if we were to assess the future, I would predict that malls would be offering more entertainment than purchases to attract a customer to their premise, as restaurants are offering similar discounts to its customers as the home delivery apps to have customers visit their outlet for an experience, not just the food.

The businesses that adapt to the change are the ones that survive, and those who stick to traditions and methods of yore, are the ones struggling to stay relevant.

Each business needs to see the future of trends and explore additional offerings that can be that can delight the customer. You could be a B2B or a B2C organisation, either ways, you need to assess your current state to what will be the need of the near or distant future. There are many methods to adapting to the changing trends of your industry and assessing the competition of your industry. Sometimes, the competition can be less imagined and more realised.

When MSMEs are able to assess their offering and increase the span of services, the need of the customer is met with more grace and willingness to be associated with the vendor. This enables the stability and growth of the organisation perennially without hurdles.

It is then preferable to be a jack of all rather than a master of one.


Also read: How SMEs can succeed in a digital world


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