Staying Power

The good news: Your product is a hit. The bad news: Your product is a hit. The inescapable truth: Success is a tough act to follow.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, feelings???? In 1975, all the radio stations were playing it. For eight months, this ode to emotions remained in the 100 top-selling singles. "Feelings" was warbled at weddings, parodied by comedians and sung in showers across the nation. Morris Albert had a hit.

Who?

Exactly. Albert, a Brazilian singer and songwriter, never hit the charts again. That's the way it goes sometimes in the music biz.

Or in any business. Any entrepreneur who hasn't proved himself or herself again and again is a candidate to be the next one-hit wonder. Which begs some questions, if you're longing for longevity: How can you go from pet rocks to Petland, to manufacturing parachutes instead of parachute pants? How can you go from being a Morris Albert to being a Marv Albert? (Okay, bad example.)

Luck aside, multiple-hit wonders are the result of good planning. Gerri Norington, founder of the Women's Business Training Center in San Diego, says that when clients first visit, "I immediately try to get them to diversify so they're not putting all their eggs in one basket."

This doesn't mean that if you sell, well, eggs, you also have to distribute bacon. But it does mean you should never be completely satisfied with your currently successful product, insists Mary Ann Edwards, an assistant business professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati.

"There's always a competitor who's going to be looking at your product and adapting it to make it better or cheaper," says Edwards. "If you get into the trap of saying `I've got my niche; I've got my product,' the more successful your product or service is, the more there will be somebody who will say `I can do that, too. Now how can I do it differently?'? In other words, if you don't improve your product or service, somebody else will.


Geoff Williams is a freelance writer in Cincinnati.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the June 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Staying Power.

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