So I will openly admit I have a girl crush on Google. Their business has become an iconic tech giant in our world, defining how a generation goes about finding information and interacting with technology.
When you take a look at their diverse portfolio, you'll notice medical research, robotics development, web browsing, email software, and more. But this diverse portfolio mean that Google as a single entity was being pulled in countless directions, asking to focus on entirely different "core businesses" at once. This, I believe, stifled innovation.
Their new legal structure under parent company, Alphabet, allows flexibility and growth to breathe life into each core business individually. This is an amazing example of long-term growth thinking and allowing room for flexibility and creative freedom to take aspects of the company in 26 different directions.
The lesson small businesses can take away from Google's example is not allowing yourself to be stretched so thin, that your core business (or businesses) start to suffer. With Alphabet allowing "G" to stand for Google, and Google only, the core business can function autonomously, parallel to the other 25 core businesses experimenting and growing on their own, at little or less risk to each other.
What about your small business or startup?
Focus results in strategy. When you focus on your core business for authentic strategic growth, you should go a mile deep and an inch wide. For startups, this is crucial. You can't be everything to everyone, so focusing on your core business and doing it well will win you success and new clients. When chasing after different verticals, you risk spreading yourself a mile wide and an inch deep. Offering services and products that you can't follow through on, aren't fully built out, and taking on too much volume too soon are sure ways to cause your business to suffer. Things will inevitable spin out of control and the company would get too big, spread too thin.
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries speaks on the concept of a leaner business model, meaning you truly focus on the core business and little else, no bells and whistles. I highly suggest the book to anyone interested in streamlining their processes, focusing in more on their core business, or developing a renewed focus for strategic growth.
At the end of the day, the example that Google sets for small businesses owners and entrepreneurs is to find something you do well and focus your energy on that. Don't let yourself or your business get pulled in so many directions that you lose sight of innovation, growth, and creative freedom.