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Something Different

Just because it ain't broke don't mean it can't be better.

Most conventional marketing wisdom emphasizes the importance of setting goals for your business and working tire-lessly toward them. However, it's sometimes just as important to change course when opportunities arise.

Stephanie West, owner of marketing and graphic design firm, West + Associa-tes, found that after 20 years, her McLean, Virginia, firm had developed cyclical workload syndrome. A high volume of product launches, special promotions and other short-term gigs meant her staff experienced a series of crunch times followed by slow periods.

West craved more of the steady workload--and cash flow--she found in the publication side of her business. So she and her team decided to reinvent the wheel and launched West-bound Publications in 1996. Since then, the company has doubled its staff and landed nearly a dozen publications for companies like Bell Atlantic, Fannie Mae and the American Chemical Society.

"By creating a new company that focused on our target area [which is high-tech and telecom companies], we could show customers we were committed to that business," ex-plains West, 45. "We were also able to use our marketing experience to bring more to the table for potential new clients."

Thinking of reinventing your company? West has some advice:

1. Go with what you know. Use the expertise you're already selling to help you figure out the next opportunity instead of venturing into an area that's entirely unfamiliar to you.

2. Don't get stuck in a rut. You now have the chance to build your business over again--using the knowledge you gained from all the mistakes you made the first time around.

3. Courage counts. Being brave while trying something new also includes being able to admit when it's not working. Don't get discouraged. Keep trying until something works.

Remember that reinventing your business is similar to starting a new business: You should make sure you have sufficient resources to support the fledgling company until it's ready to fly.

Contact Source

West + Associates,,

This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »