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Why Nachos Aren't on the Menu

Why Nachos Aren't on the Menu

Or, how do you decide to expand your business to include a new product or service offering?

Sean used to work at a brewery, waiting tables and bartending. It's a sizable regional brewery located in a town with a population of about 10,000 and not especially easy to get to, so he used to see a lot of the same people.

Plenty of those regulars were lovely, enthusiastic, well-mannered people. A few were not.

One not-so-great regular often came in and ordered nachos. The problem was that nachos weren't on the menu.

"Of course, you can make me nachos," he'd insist, "you have chips, cheese, and salsa. What's so hard about that?"

It seems simple enough—just make the man what he wants, maybe even charge him a little extra for the hassle. But accommodating that "off menu" order brings with it a slew of knock-on effects.

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What does a dude ordering nachos that aren’t on the menu have to do with leading a business or working independently?

Lots, actually.

As precarious workers in an ever-changing market, we’re continuously presented with “opportunities” to expand what we offer or “pivot.” It can seem like the next big thing is the key to stability or at least short-term security.

So the question at hand is:

How do you decide to expand your product or service offerings?

It's a question

and I have been wrestling with at YellowHouse.Media this year. Over the last few months, we've fielded a bunch of questions about adding video production to our podcast services. We’ve lost out on some new business because we didn’t do video. And we’re definitely leaving money on the table with some of our existing clients.

However, those aren’t reasons to add video to our menu. Neither is the fact that we both enjoy watching videos online or that I even enjoy the occasional video production experiment myself. Just because someone is willing to pay for video production doesn't mean we should offer it.

We can't build a sustainable business by chasing every opportunity.

A sustainable business is strategically constrained. Its leaders know what the business is and, more importantly, what it's not.

We started our production agency to make standout podcasts. It’s not that we didn’t know video was a hot way to produce content. It’s that we know and care about podcasting. And honestly, if you asked me to choose between the death of YouTube and the death of podcasting, I'd take the death of YouTube every single time.

Even before YellowHouse.Media was born, we mapped out the systems, team, financials, goals, value proposition, etc., that would make up the business world we want to build for ourselves. So in order for us to consider adding video production, we have to remap that world.

What is YellowHouse.Media if it expands its scope to include video production?
And is that the world we want to live and work in?

While the stakes of giving in to an off-menu request for nachos might be smaller, there are stakes nonetheless. When one server agrees to throw some chips and cheese on a plate and put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes, they're—in a small way—altering the world of that pub.

That server changes the expectations of the patron who asked for nachos in a way that impacts other servers who will take his order in the future. The server disrupts the workflow and efficiency of the kitchen staff. And in a very small way, the server undermines the cohesiveness of the menu. It's not the server's responsibility to think of all those consequences in the moment, of course, but it is my responsibility as a business owner.

So here's how we've been thinking through the idea of expanding into video production.

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Context Curious from What Works
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