1) Offer Current Product to Current Customers/Market
This is the lowest risk of all business ideas. The reason it is the lowest is you already know the customer and they have made purchases in the past or are continually making purchases depending on your industry and product.
However, the goal is to increase your volume which will increase your sales. This can be accomplished through promotions or discounts for bulk orders. Maybe even run a promotion to your existing customers about your current product but offer to give them a 10% discount on their next order if they purchase two or more.
Run a referral promotion where if they refer business to you they get a referral check or discount on their next order.
2) Offer New Product to Current Customers/Market
Once again, tap into your existing customer database by introducing them to a new product or service you are offering. This is somewhat risky as you are adding extra expenses for the item you are trying to sell.
However, if your existing customers like the new product then it could be a great money-maker for you and your organization.
Keep in mind that you want your new product to synergize with your company. For example, if you have a lady's shoe business and you add a real rugged boot to your product line that is geared primarily towards men. This new product doesn't reflect your company and its mission.
Research, research, research...Before you invest time and money into a new product or service and then blindly introduce it to your customers, do some research. There is endless research on the internet or websites devoted to giving you feedback on a new product launch.
I would recommend using something like Survey Monkey.com and create a survey about your new product and service. Send the survey to your existing customers and see what type of feedback you received. Incentivize your customers to take the survey by offering a rebate or discount on their next order.
Having this data can save you from failing as sometimes one bad business decision can put you under.
3) Offer Current Product to New Customers/Market
This method is somewhat risky as you are approaching new customers or a new market with your existing product. It is risky as you don't know how your product will be received in a new market.
A product that is thriving in New York will not necessarily thrive in San Francisco.
For example, if you have an Italian Restaurant chain that is based in Chicago. Your business might be booming and doing well so you want to expand into other states. Opening a place in San José, CA which was recently ranked as the healthiest place to live, wouldn't be a good idea.
However, if you have a clothing business and focus on college aged students in Atlanta, GA area then opening another place near a university in Tennessee could be successful. Although, I would still recommend driving up to the area and just talking to students and you would receive great feedback. If the college students think your clothing is trendy and cool then it gives you hope that expansion would be successful.
Spend a little time doing some research and it will help you make a wise business decision.
4) Offer New Product to New Customers/Market
The riskiest of them all is offering new products to new customers or a new market. There are so many unknowns that a business person can not just shoot from the hip. You don't know if your new product or service will be accepted by the new customer or market.
An example would be a contractor who does roofing in Dallas, TX. He is successful with roofing and decides to add-on windows and doors to his product line. The windows and doors are accepted in the Dallas market. The business owner opens a location in Atlanta, GA and assumes his roofing, windows, and door products will be just as successful. However, the Atlanta market has different building codes and requirements. Therefore, the products can't even be used in the Atlanta market. The lack of research has cost the owner a lot of money and the failure is demoralizing to the company.
A successful example would be Ford. Ford was successful overseas with their compact car product line. They did market research and determined that offering a new compact car to the United States would be well received and could drive sales. As a result of their research, the decision was highly successful and is driving revenues upwards.
This idea is the most risky and requires the greatest amount of research and time.
Remember these four principles and it will keep you moving in the right direction with your business and never forget to conduct research before moving forward.