Core business changed? Here’s what to do about it.

Core business changed? Here’s what to do about it.

Plenty of businesses start with one core message. Then market conditions and demand dictate a shift. Before you know it you’ve drifted unintentionally away from what was once your core business and your message is lost in a sea of good intentions.

It’s not just a “small business thing” either. It turns out brands we know and love charted a course to a much different destination.


Formerly known as “Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company” (=3 M’s), 3M started in 1902 as a mining company that sold a popular mineral to grinding wheel manufacturers.

From a mineral, they began selling sandpaper, then masking tape, then “Scotch Tape”. Today they have amassed over $30billion in sales, have 88 000 employees and produce more than 55 000 products including: adhesives, abrasives, laminates, dental products and car-care products.


Colgate was originally founded in 1806 by a soap and candle maker named William Colgate. They started by selling soap, candles, and starch. In 1873, Colgate started selling toothpaste by the jar and was the first toothpaste in a collapsible tube, introduced in 1896.


Nokia got its start in 1865 as a paper mill. The original form of communication technology. In 1868, Frederick Idestam opened his second pulp mill near the town of Nokia, Finland. After a century of mergers and acquisitions, Nokia entered the mobile communication in the 1980s with the Mobira Talkman.

A seismic shift or a blip on the radar?

Market conditions and demand can change on a daily basis. So how did Nokia, 3M and Colgate tell the difference from a seismic market shift and a market development?

1. Know when. Decide if it’s the right time for change. Most small businesses who start rethinking their brand message have been operating for between 5-7 years. Various factors can push a reinvention. The market may have changed. The economy may reshuffle your customer base. You may want different clients. Remember: any change involves risk.

2. Know what. After the decision is made to change, you need to decide what type of change is necessary to meet your goals. Entrepreneurs have a wealth of ideas. Decide to cut off the ‘other ideas’ and focus on The One. Making a decision to make a decision is often the hardest part.

3. The plan. Act as if you’re starting from scratch. Think it through thoroughly. Figure out your business plan, your marketing plan and our brand plan. Think long and hard about who your new competition is, how you’re going to beat them and at what cost.

4. The switch. During the transition, you’ll likely be running two businesses at once as you phase out the old business model and ramp up the new one. Sometimes reinvention means running two businesses simultaneously for almost a year. It’s overwhelming. It’s not fun. The solution is to create a detailed exit strategy. Allow time for the changes to take effect and clients to transition.

Have you been operating your small business for 5-7 years and looking for change?Let’s talk.

See you next week,


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