Avoiding The One Trick Pony Trap for Scaling Businesses

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On February 28, 2020

one trick pone traps for scaling businessesA Lack of Diversification Can Hinder Your Ability to Scaling Businesses

The path of popular music is littered with “One-Hit-Wonders” (There’s even a post that features the Top 65 One Hit Wonders of All-Time). Some actors are known only for portraying a single character (sometimes because they’ve done it so well). But for businesses that are scaling up, being a one-trick pony can trap scaling businesses in a position that makes it hard to grow.

What About “Do One Thing and Do It Well”?

Isn’t it a good thing to focus on one thing and do it better than everyone else? Even the maverick, Steve Jobs is quoted as saying, “Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” There is a certain amount of wisdom in not trying to be all things to all people. That approach is also a business killer. Businesses that try to please everyone end up pleasing no one.

So, Where’s the Balance to scaling a business?

Let’s return to Steve Jobs as an example. Apple never abandoned the concept of doing things well. But it wasn’t until they diversified that they started experiencing explosive growth. If all they had done was manufacture computers, they would never have become the first company to be worth $1 Trillion. The iPod, the iPad, iTunes, and the iPhone all fueled Apple’s incredible growth. It’s interesting to note that (according to Investopedia) the iPhone alone accounts for more than 60 percent of Apple’s total sales (and at one point it brought in 70 percent).

Apple’s lines of business also include Apple Watch, Apple TV, iCloud, Apple Care, Apple Pay, The App Store, and more. While they still don’t try to be all things to all people, Apple is not a “one-trick pony.”

Think Different Isn’t Just a Slogan

We tend to remember Apple’s Think Different slogan as a part of a brilliant advertising campaign (which it was). But the concept of thinking differently went much deeper than simply appealing to people to act creatively. It was also reflective of how Apple viewed their potential market.

Instead of focusing exclusively on making computers, Apple thought differently about how people used computing—and how the power of computing could be applied in new ways. Is the iPhone a computer? Sure, but it’s a different kind of computer. The iWatch is a computer, too—with a completely different kind of functionality. The same is true of the iPod, the iPad, and Apple TV. What set Apple apart was that they were less focused on the devices—and more focused on how to use the power of computing to make people’s lives better in ways those people never imagined.

You’re Not Apple

Let’s face it: You’re not Apple. You may not even be in the same market space. Beyond that, Apple isn’t the perfect company. The point of all this is that to scale up your business, you need to think beyond your existing products or services. You have to be willing to think beyond what is and try to figure out what could be. What are the needs that your potential clients have? How can you meet them in a way that nobody else is even thinking about? Even if you’re very good at what you do, you can’t afford to fall into the trap of being a one-trick pony.  It is also important to work with a professional business coach to help with the growth and transformation plan for your company.


Traps to scaling Businesses ebook Being a one-trick pony is just one of the growth traps facing businesses that are trying to scale up. That’s why I wrote How to Avoid the Growth Traps.  I invite you to download this free eBook so that you can guard yourself against some of the most common missteps and mistakes that scaling companies face.