Business Niche: How to Build a Predictable Income Model

This Old New Business Podcast with Jeff Korhan

This is Episode 13 of This Old New Business weekly business podcast with Jeff Korhan.

Mike Rorie is the founder of one of the largest landscape management companies in the United States that employed 550 employees at its peak, before selling to a national firm in 2006.

To grow and manage a business of that magnitude requires a lot more than had work. In this episode Mike shares why it’s vital to find a business model that promises predictable income, which of course is one of the top challenges of many small businesses.

What you learn in this episode cannot be found in popular business books. It’s the uncommon wisdom that comes from building a successful enterprise from the ground up.

I know this episode will have you looking at your business differently – as you should if you expect to be a leader in your business niche.

Our Featured Guest: Mike Rorie

Business Niche: How to Build a Predictable Income Business ModelMike Rorie has been actively involved in the green industry for over 30 years. He started Cincinnati, OH based commercial grounds management company GroundMasters with one truck, and grew it into a highly profitable, multi-branch, regional platform that ranked among the largest landscape companies in the country, before selling to a national firm in 2006.

Mike is now the CEO of Go iLawn, the go-to online property measuring system for landscape contractors.

Inventory Your Revenue Sources

One of Mike’s recommendations for any business is to inventory and classify its customers. Look for associations and disassociations, no matter how big or small.

He notes that every market beats a litte differently, from the standpoint of how they like to buy, consume the product or service, and even pay for it. Those differences will not become apparent unless your business learns to classify its customers from their perspective.

The market segment that will provide your business with repeatable income is the one that you understand, and that understands you.

Build Strategic Alliances

The entpreneurial mindset for taking action on everything is powerful for getting a business off the ground, but often destructive for sustaining its growth. Mike reminds businesses to stay in your lane to focus on what you do best, while building strategic alliances with partners to help with the rest.

Even if your business does something well, it still should consider finding strategic partners for whom that is a core activity. The whole idea of working in a niche is to be one of the best, and that simply is not possible if you change lanes to pursue every opportunity.

The biggest distractions for entrepreneurs are new sources of revenue. Having been there myself and succumbed to the temptation, my suggestion is to trust your gut. You know in your gut when you are veering off course. Either share that work with strategic partners or walk away from it.

Focus on Recurring Revenue

Business owners and marketers these days are often advised to find opportunities that scale. This is easy if you happen to be in the software business, but not so for the rest of us.

On a practical level, what you are really looking for is repeatable or recurring revenue that arrives automatically. This is often the result of doing one thing well that is in demand, such as cutting grass.

There’s lots of grass to cut, and it needs to be cut every week. Mike Rorie built a successful business around that singular activity. How about your business?

What is it in your industry that needs doing on a consistent basis, such that there are buyers that want to hire companies like yours to get it done? Consider making that central to your business model.

Lighting Round Tips and Advice

Mike’s Top Sales or Marketing Advice – Identify your market carefully. Then learn everything about it.

His Favorite Productivity Tip – Don’t agree to get in the line. Figure out how to shortcut things and get in front of that line.

A Quote that has Inspired Mike’s Success – “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” – Daniele Varè

Key Take-Aways

  • Strategic alliances will help your business keep its focus narrow, predictable, and profitable.
  • The cost of customer acquisition diminishes the longer they remain a repeatable customer
  • You can learn more about Mike at Go iLawn, and connect with him personally at [email protected].

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Is your business model designed to niche your business to build a predictable source of income?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+