With the quickly changing business environment it’s easy to want to grab on to the next big thing. But moving too quickly and moving outside your core business can easily become a distraction and result in losses to the core business that got you where you are today in the first place. One way to do this is a skills assessment or skills inventory to help build a box around what you do, or more importantly, won’t do to grow your business. People who are job hunting do this all the time to help identify skills and experience and filter out inappropriate jobs, but the same methodology can also be applied to your business.

A people or employee-based skills inventory is a review conducted by a business to determine the current skill set of their employees. It usually lists the major skills required, which employees have those skills and how competent each employee is with that skill. Businesses of all sizes often will use skills inventories to help them make strategic decisions. To adapt it to assess new products or services you want to offer is very similar.

stacked, coloured blocks respresenting employees

First, look at your current business and then ask yourself:

  1. What are you offering today?
  2. Who are your typical customers?
  3. What products or services do you regularly sell the most of and/or the fewest?
  4. Is your business known for anything specific?

Write this down and then start to build your expansion plan around it. Take your new idea and see if it fits into your current product/service mix.

Here’s an example. Directwest has been around for 30 years, but the Saskatchewan phonebook has been around for over 100 years. The original Google, the phonebook was the only option for people to find local businesses. The phonebook was organized, categorized, location-specific and almost 100% accurate year after year. It was also comprehensive, meaning it contained listings for most business in a given area. Back in the early days it was done on paper, but today it’s all done digitally with large databases of information organized and categorized, prioritized, alphabetized, and verified. A lot of skilled people manage this data along with the process of gathering and organizing it.

Directwest took this data analytics, data accuracy and content categorization skills developed from the years helping business be found via the phone book and now uses those same skills in the digital world in things like call tracking, conversion metrics and reporting, search appearances and Google Ad campaign optimization. Some became products and services we offer our customers, and some become internal skills for capturing, analyzing, and reporting on data we use for ourselves and our customers to help grow business in Saskatchewan.

bird's eye view of people working around a table with different technological devices

It’s very important to do an assessment before embarking on any new initiative within your business. Your new idea could hurt your core business if it doesn’t fit well with your other products or services. It’s a great time to explore expansion options, but doing it methodically will help improve your chances of success.


Andrew Clarke is the Director of Brand, Platform and Research at Directwest