I own a small business that produces niche products. Lately, we’ve been getting calls from prospective customers who want to use our products in different ways. How do you advise handling an “outside the box” request?
Ask yourself three basic questions: Can the product be produced in the needed quantity for a fair price? Will it be something you’ll want to hang your reputation on? Do you really want to do this?
If you answer “yes,” additional questions arise. Can the product be used the way they want to use it? Must it be modified, and at what cost? Can you supply it on time?
I know I’m giving you questions, not answers, but in the end, providing a quality, functional product in a timely manner for a fair, profitable price is the key to a small business’ success.
An unusual request just might be a great entrepreneurial opportunity. It’ll probably take some work, because when great ideas show up they’re usually wearing work clothes. But do some research, and make the same basic manufacturing and economic decisions you would with a new item. Remember, this could open up a whole new market for you!