One of the most dangerous things I frequently witness as a marketing consultant is rapid expansion.
Expansion of floor space, expansion of service offering, expansion of product line, expansion of target customers.
Jack Trout and Al Ries called this the “irresistible pressure to expand,” which tends to lead to an inexorable pressure to collapse.
As John Kenneth Galbraith put it, “A balloon that has been punctured does not deflate in an orderly way.”
But doesn’t every business want to grow?
Yes, but not every business should expand.
Growth fuelled by profit is one thing, expansion fuelled by anxiety is another.
For our business to grow sustainably, we need to be the sole providers of something that our best customers can’t get anywhere else.
And so we’ve got to remember the words of Jony Ive, Apple’s iconic former head of design:
“What focus means is saying no to something that with every bone in your body you think is a phenomenal idea, and you wake up thinking about it, but you end up saying no to it because you’re focusing on something else.”
Expansion means saying yes to everything but our customers, who just want to know what we’re truly the best at.
Focus means saying no.
So that our best customers know what to say yes to.