I read a wonderful article yesterday by Chris Boulton from ThinkLikeABride.com. Chris focuses on the bridal market and her article was about planners understanding who their actual clients were, not who they hope them to be.
Understanding what you believe is your business' core and communicating it to the market is, no question, of the utmost importance. But just as important is to listen to what the market is telling you about your business. Why? Because understanding what clients, vendors, employees and associates value about your art and your business lets you (re)focus on providing that value.
Human nature is to see ourselves as we want to be seen, not necessarily as we are. So it might be difficult to hear what people have to say, but, as a business owner, you have to. The reason is simple: the market will pay the most for what it values the most and vice-versa.
After you understand what is most valuable about your business, you can decide if that is the business you want to be in. If it is, then jettison everything else and be known for that which is most valuable. So, for instance, if you are a planner, but the market loves your design skills -- time to stop planning. If you are a graphic designer, but the market loves your invitation and wedding designs, time to be in the invitation business. Jettison? Pretty radical I know, but such the right move. Focusing exclusively on what the market thinks you do well (which, hopefully, is what you think you do well) will lead to better pricing for your product and/or service, a broader market and a better foundation for the growth/evolution of that product or service. Continuing to do what the market does not value will only drag you down and distract you from the opportunities right in front of you.
If you can not reconcile what the market values and what you believe your and your business' core is, I am by no means telling you to close up shop. Just know you will face incredible challenges from your competition who is valued for what you are not. One suggestion though: separate the "valuable" part of your business as much as you can from the rest. It deserves a chance to see how far it can go on its own. Even something so simple as renaming that part of your business.