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Become a fashionable ‘boutique’ advisory firm

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Recently, the historic Saratoga Race Course hosted many of the premier thoroughbreds in the country and abroad. Each year, this course attracts tens of thousands of visitors and tens of millions of dollars. So how has this great institution remained at the pinnacle of its industry for a century and a half?

They have applied the boutique model of business. Best articulated in the compelling book Small Giants by Bo Burlingham, this model focuses on becoming great rather than huge. Saratoga limits it’s racing to 40 days, thereby avoiding a dilution of their “product.” With this approach, they have continued to offer the premier racing meet in North America.

And this business model can be replicated in nearly any business or industry. If you’re a small operation, focus on delivering an exceptional product or service to a limited group of clients. By becoming the best alternative available, you will ensure your clients keep coming back. And, as you already know, repeat sales are much easier than finding new customers.

If you are a larger organization, you can decide to allow a division to self-manage and act as a boutique for clients. Encourage them to dominate a niche market, to become the premier solution and remain that way—even at the expense of growth.

Focus on your core competencies and use them to become elite in your space. Being big is nice, of course. But wouldn’t you rather be great for 150 years?

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John Scranton is an insurance agency marketing expert and vice president of StartUpSelling, Inc. which helps small businesses with lead generation, sales, marketing, website design and branding. For more information and tips from John, visit, or go to his blog at


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