Businesses can get bigger in different ways---more customers, additional sales, employees, and even product or service offerings. Growth in any of those areas can result in bottom-line growth as well. All good, so far. But bigger isn’t always better.

One lesson we can take away from the recession’s aftermath is that there’s an incredible benefit in staying focused on your company’s sweet spot. Knowing what you do best (in terms both of profitability for you and results for the customer) allows you to hunker down and wait out an economic storm.

Those organizations that were spread too thin (or tried to be something to everyone) got thrashed when the economy tightened. That lack of brand vision, coupled with a bad habit of taking on clients they couldn’t serve profitably, cost many businesses a significant amount of money and, in some cases, shut them down.

Especially when times are lean, it’s tempting to chase dollars even if they’re coming from outside your normal scope of services. After all, a dollar is a dollar, right? But that bad fit will inevitably cost you time and money. And the biggest loss of all is that you take your eye off what you do best.

It takes a savvy businessperson to be disciplined enough to not stray outside of his core competency. That’s not just smart business, that’s smart marketing. How can you differentiate yourself, or be seen as an expert, if you do everything?

As you mull over what this year might hold for you, consider whether you could grow your business by being smaller. What if you said “no” to work or clients that took you out of your sweet spot? Maybe it’s worth trying out.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Big Dog, Little Dog)

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Drew McLellan is the CEO of Agency Management Institute, a company serving 250+ agencies to help the owners build profitable agencies that evolve and scale.

LinkedIn: Drew McLellan

Twitter: @DrewMcLellan