2013 06 12 07.00.59 300x225 Necessity, Niches, and Your Small Business I want a garden.

Well, I want a vegetable garden. We already have flower and plant gardens, but you can’t eat those. The problem is that while we have the space, we also have Shadow. I’m convinced that without barbed wire and electrified fencing, any attempt at vegetable gardening will be futile as long as this 100-pound chocolate lab occupies our back yard. If he’s not digging or lifting his leg on plants, he’s eating them. So I’ve given up.

I’ve even had friends give me suggestions as to different gardening techniques that might work, but they all seem to have their flaws, particularly in relation to this blasted dog of mine.

Then yesterday morning while walking Shadow I came across this example of resourcefulness from someone in my neighborhood.

2013 06 12 07.00.35 Necessity, Niches, and Your Small Business

Seems this urban gardener has repurposed barrels and recycling bins and turned them into planters for his lettuce and other veggies right out on the sidewalk in front of his house. Not fenced in, not protected, just out there.

If I were to say the word “garden,” we’d all come up with pretty much the same mental image. We’ve seen them, we’ve had them, and we all know what a garden is. Or do we? The guy around the corner has redefined the word garden in order to make it work for him. It might not be what is traditionally known as a garden, even in the city, but it is most decidedly a garden.

Necessity often requires that we change our definitions. For instance, the Internet is rapidly changing how we define the following words and businesses:

  • library
  • television
  • books
  • mail
  • newspaper
  • radio
  • album

And that’s just a small sample, and the definitions keep changing. In fact, what I took a picture of is just one alternate definition of a garden. As I was writing this my friend Megan found this planted around a tree on the sidewalk in another part of town.

Things change. Circumstances might force us to reevaluate our business model and make necessary adjustments. The Internet has all but destroyed the traditional model of a video store, but that doesn’t mean that we’re watching fewer movies in our homes. On the contrary, I imagine we are watching more. The need hasn’t changed, but the business model has. Libraries, book stores, record stores, newspapers, radio stations, and more are all being forced to change their definition of who they are and what they do. If they do this well, they will succeed. If not, they might just disappear. And some are doing it much better than others.

Just the other day I met with a friend of mine who has a very successful startup. The growth has been phenomenal. But one little wrench in the works has jeopardized the future of that business, forcing her to seek some much needed capital. We brainstormed for a bit and came up with ideas, and thankfully some of her more creative ideas seem to be panning out. She wasn’t going to let her circumstances, or her need for a large sum of money, slow her down.

For startups and small businesses, the options are great. Social media and crowdfunding can help us overcome some of those hurdles, while providing a much needed marketing boost. And just because circumstances and technology change, doesn’t mean your business is dead. You might just need to tweak your business model and redefine what it is you do and how you do it.

Don’t be limited. The options and opportunities are there.

Don’t give up on your garden. Just be creative in how you go about your gardening.

How are you rethinking your business model in light of changes in the economy, technology, and more?