Kossoff On ... why you need to start thinking beyond the 'verticals' like your supply chain if you want to boost your business

If you're not already well into your planning for next year, you've got a big problem.

But, whether you are or not, a trend you want to incorporate into your and your team's thinking is to go beyond the "verticals" that industry experts like to promote.

You know what I'm talking about. Whether it's in your supply chain or in choosing the markets you want to pursue, you focus on your "core competencies" - a big winner in buzzword bingo - and "sell into your verticals." Nah. You really don't. Or at least not totally. Because if you do, you're missing out on a load of opportunities that are waiting to be pursued.

How do I know? Just look at Next. As you know, it is a clothing retailer - or it was. Because what's next for it is to become a garden retailer with a twist. It's not selling into the "grey" demographic - or at least not only. That's not its market. It's opening up a whole new market segment by going out of its vertical (clothing) and into a new vertical (garden retail).

Where did the idea come from? Terrain, which is part of trendy upscale retailer Urban Outfitters, started as a "concept store" back in 2007. Then the economy crashed. But it's growing now, opening its second store with plans for more over time. Just like Next.

What does this mean for you, whether you're on the ornamentals or edibles side? You have new markets to pursue, if you're willing to do so. First, change your thinking. You're not in the "horticulture" vertical. You're selling into retail, which has a broader definition and far greater opportunities.

Second, look for your value add. Whether it's offering up a farmers' market or a grow your own component to a Next or other retailer, let them know how they'll benefit from your involvement in their offering.

Third, get aggressive. You're not in a passive marketplace. You haven't been since Tesco bought Dobbies. It's time to get in the game and make it yours.

Leslie L. Kossoff is CEO of Leadership Quantified - www.leadershipquantified.com.

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