The Business of Options

When it comes to business you’re probably considering tons of options on a regular basis.  Today I want to talk about the options of what you offer for sale.  What do I mean by options?  Some businesses like Amazon and Walmart offer tons and tons of options of lots of different things.  Some businesses like diners offer a variety of one type of thing, in this case food.  Other businesses like coaches and consultants offer a variety of levels of services that they offer, even if it’s technically the same core service/product.  Each of these businesses offers different things and different options about those services.  Only a small percentage of the businesses that I work or communicate with offer literally only one thing.  Typically because it’s really hard to be successful with only one option.

So what got me thinking about options?  Two different things, one that made me feel relieved and one that has me still considering the options.  Let’s talk about the tough one first.  If you’ve been to the convenience, grocery or big box store (as well as many others) in the past couple of weeks you’ve probably seen aisles with one thing: candy.  I’ve walked quite a few of these aisles just to see what they have since I limit my sugar intake, and of course because it’s Halloween and that’s one of the two things people immediately think of when you talk about Halloween.  I’ve seen so many different bags of candy and mixed bags of candy and candy on top of candy that it’s hard to think about making a decision, especially if you like a bunch of the options.  Sure you could make the choice easier by choosing by health (choosing popcorn or pretzels) or even by the other kind of health and getting something that’s not manufactured with peanuts or other nuts.  But if those aren’t two things you think about or don’t like the price for them, the options feel endless.

The second experience was a better one.  I was in between clients as part of a full day of clients, some distance from my home.  So I decided to grab dinner quick before the next appointment.  First, I thought about treating myself and getting a slice or two of pizza (not the healthiest option).  Second, I thought about going out of my way a little to go to the restaurant because they had a healthier option.  Then I thought about the first restaurant and getting a salad or other healthier option from them even though it would be a little pricier, which is what I decided on while driving.  But as I got into the town I saw a restaurant I had eaten at years ago and forgotten about their healthier and less expensive options.  So restaurant #3 it was. Of course there are dozens of restaurants around the area that I could have chosen from or added to the list of options.   But what makes this experience different from the Halloween candy experience is that any of these 3 restaurants I would have been happy with.  They each offer their own unique options that weren’t too many or too difficult to get to and eat in the short time that I had.

There are lots of lessons that you can take from these two experiences that I had with options for sale.  The first is that although options are important, some companies can’t successfully manage selling tons of options.  Second, too many options of very similar ones can actually decrease sales.  Third, do your best to engage and please your customers with all your options.  Finally, access does play a part, and not having your website or physical store set up or prices being out of reach for many of your possible audience could limit your sales potential.

So the question is: are you set up with the right options in your business?  Take time this week to take a good look at what you offer and if it’s the best for your customers.

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