Before You Diversify Your Business, Consider Your Role: Small Business Lessons from Google and Alphabet

Google co-founder Larry Page recently announced a new parent company for many of its projects, named Alphabet. Google’s core online technology business, which includes tools like Gmail, Google Search, Android, and Maps will remain the focus of the Google brand, while its scientific research projects, X Labs (where Google Glass, drone project Wing, and Google’s driverless cars were developed) and investment projects like Google Ventures will be housed under Alphabet’s umbrella. Page will serve as CEO of Alphabet.

Although Google has been around for 17 years and is a household name, the announcement was still surprising. As the commotion settles, there are some lessons from Alphabet’s introduction that can be applied to small businesses.

1. Aspire to become the advisor: Your growth may develop in the same line of business as your original focus, or you may decide to work on other big ideas — “moonshots,” as Google calls its forays into medical research, drones, and more. You cannot follow through on every idea if your business is fully dependent on you. You may need to hire someone to handle day-to-day operations, while you step aside to work on the company’s big-picture innovation efforts.

2. Never name the business after you: I learned this early on from a friend of mine, Alan Glazier, who decided to call his business Shady Grove Eye and Vision instead of Glazier Eye Clinic. His business has grown to include several doctors, and he works as the CEO, complete with his own version of “moonshot” projects. Imagine a search engine called PageBrin after Google’s founders? We’d use it, but who wants to think about the company’s founders every time they perform an online search?

3. Succession takes time: Google kept its plans under wraps for four years. CEO Larry Page spent the time to slowly move away from operations to groom his successor, Sundar Pichai. It’s worth implementing changes over a longer period of time if your business will be more stable in the long run.

4. Different lines of business need different types of focus: The press has compared the Google restructuring to that of Berkshire Hathaway, in which Warren Buffet invested in a variety of completely different businesses. In that case, the companies did not merge together, but instead run independently with their own CEOs. If you decide to diversify your business goals, you may be better off starting a new line of business as a separate company.

Are you thinking about restructuring your business? SCORE mentors can help you build, expand, and enhance your business. Making plans for your business now can ensure success as you grow.

On August 27, Surefire Social will co-host an exclusive webinar with Google experts, who will discuss online marketing strategies for small business contractors and home service businesses. Register here:

Shashi Bellamkonda
<p> Shashi Bellamkonda is Surefire Social’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). He also serves as an Adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University teaching Marketing Analytics & Digital, Social Media and Mobile Marketing. Bellamkonda is passionate about helping small business and speaks at conferences on multi-location digital marketing and online lead generation.<br /> <a href="" style="line-height: 1.385em;" target="_blank" title="Surefire Social">Surefire Social</a><span class="s3" style="line-height: 1.385em;"> | <a href="" target="_blank" title="Facebook"><span class="s4">Facebook</span></a> | <a href="" target="_blank" title="Surefire Social"><span class="s4">@SurefireSocial</span></a> | <a href="" target="_blank" title="Twitter"><span class="s4">@ShashiB</span></a></span></p>


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