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Jack of All Trades... Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Written by Erika Cappa


Posted on September 10 2021

I am often asked if it's better to offer a ton of products or only a few.  There isn't a one size fits all answer though... the answer is going to be dependent on a lot of different variables.

Are you offering one type of product, but a lot of variations?  Apparel would be a good example of this.  Apparel is the product, but variations would be t-shirts, hoodies, lounge pants, etc.

Or are you offering a lot of different products with few variations?  For example, a shop that sells apparel (but only t-shirts), bath products (but only bath bombs), candles (but only one type), etc.

Or are you offering a lot of different products with a lot of variations?  For example, if it's a popular product right now then you are jumping right in and selling on the fly.

None of these styles are wrong.  Any of these styles can be successful as long as you have and follow a business plan that is designed to fit that specific model.  Also keep in mind that each of these selling methods will appeal to different types of customers... and you will need to make sure your marketing is on point to attract the right type of customers.  

However, when I'm talking to someone who wants to be a product based small business owner, I always recommend that they start with a specific product with a good number of variations.  Having a strong foundation is an absolute necessity to having a sustainable business.  Being an expert on the products that you offer, knowing exactly who your target market is, and building relationships with those customers to create a strong network are huge cornerstones in your business foundation.  That's easier to do when you have very specific products and all of those products appeal to the same customer.

Once you have built a strong foundation, I definitely encourage business owners to expand... but be smart with your expansion.  Will the new products you offer appeal to the same customer as your other products? If yes, then perfect!  If not, then you may want to consider either not offering those products OR start a separate entity for those products and work on creating a new foundation for that subset of products.  

If you begin offering products that don't appeal to the customer base you already have, then you run the risk of losing the interest of those customers.  Now, I'm not talking about super specific items.  If you are an apparel shop, then chances are your customers shop with you because they like apparel.  So continue to expand by adding additional apparel items.  If you are an apparel shop and want to exapand by offering fish tanks... you may want to consider how marketing fish tanks will go over for those who purchase from your apparel shop. 

Know who your customers are and how they use your product.... that should help guide you in how you expand your current business.  If your expansion plan doesn't really line up with your current offerings and you are passionate about it, then start building a second foundation!  Afterall, the average millionaire doesn't have just one source of income... they have seven!