Change is upon us. We all have to rethink our businesses given the economic climate we live in today. This much is a broken record.
The smartest of you are trying to figure out a new way of servicing your customers that provides value to them and, at the same time, is profitable for you. Sometimes it means creating an entirely new offering, but, most often, it means focusing on one component of your business. Regardless, what you need to make sure of is that the new new thing has traction and leverage.
If the more a product or service gets used, the stronger it will get just because more people are using it, then it has traction. Social media is a fantastic example. The more people that use Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, etc., the more valuable they become. For creative businesses, if your new offering can become the industry standard then you can create traction. If you are a lighting designer and you come up with a cool series of "off the shelf" gobos, the more people use them, the more you can become known as the standard bearer for gobos. Traction helps you establish your position in the marketplace and reinforces your position the more people use the service and/or product. If you don't have traction, then you invite powerful competition should you be successful. An example would be an event planner focusing on day-of services to help the busy bride. The more popular the service gets, the more other planners will do it too. Instead, if the planner came up with an interesting software/virtual planning service to go along with day-of services, then there is a unique package that could become the industry standard and, therefore, have traction.
Every component of a creative business should reinforce the rest of the business. This is leverage. So taking the day-of planner example further, if the planner gets a high-profile full service event, it won't necessarily help the day-of offering. It might, however, help the software/virtual planning/day-of service. Without leverage, best case is that your new endeavor will do nothing to your existing business. Worst case, it will hurt it. For instance, if a high-end photographer or designer (graphic, interior, lighting) comes out with an "affordable" offering without really differentiating the new business from the existing one other than it being affordable, there is a large risk that potential clients will be confused. Confusion means alienation equals bye-bye clients.
Taking the time to analyze whether your new endeavor has BOTH traction and leverage is a great way to determine if you should pursue it or not. If you think it does, then probably worth a shot. Isaac and Target, Martha and K-Mart proved good design translates in all ends of the market. If you don't think your new venture has traction AND leverage, then try to think of what you can do to make it so. I am guessing that if you do the work, you will probably be the one with the better mousetrap.