Awards & Engraving

August '18

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84 • A&E THE GUIDE 2018 FIND AN UNMET NEED AND FILL IT Once you've determined you are ready to finetune and/or expand your busi- ness, you must define your niche. Take some time to make an inventory of your interests, abilities, and experience. Often successful business ideas spring from the founder's passion or convictions. Look closely at what you've done in the past and what occupies your time and thoughts today, and you will likely find some busi- ness ideas or untapped markets that you can develop. Regardless of the results of your self- examination — both physical and mental — you must identify an unmet market need of a geo-demographic group of pro- spective customers. You must find a piece of the globe that is inhabited by people with money they are willing to part with in order to satisfy a particular need. Some people get into the awards and engraving industry from the point of sale, then expand laterally. For example, let's say your forté is in design and you create a series of unique, trademark-worthy designs that look fantastic laser engraved onto a wide variety of substrates, but you don't have the right equipment. After showing the concept to several prospective cus- tomers, they express a strong interest in placing an order. You take sizeable orders from several clients, have the pieces pro- duced by a contractor, upcharge the job, and pocket the profit. After several iterations of such trans- actions — and the gradual building of a stable customer base — you should have enough seed money to backward-integrate and tool up to produce the pieces yourself. I know this is easier said than done, but the advantage here is not having to shell out a large sum of money from the get-go. This next statement may seem harsh, but it has proven to be true time and again. If you do not have a unique idea that satis- fies an unmet market need, keep searching until you find one. If you are going to create a new enterprise that simply emulates a well-established business, you are, at worst, likely to fail and, at best, be gobbled up by the competition. To target your market niche, talk to potential customers, competitors, and suppliers. Ponder to yourself and/or ask the following questions:

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