06/11/2013 12:21 EDT | Updated 08/11/2013 05:12 EDT

Altering Your Business to Fit the Ups and Downs of Life

Diane Kroe is a Toronto-based designer who had a store on one of the premier locations in the city. She was serving clients on upper Avenue Road and business was booming.

Many of her affluent clients started having the same request -- they were looking for stylish and sophisticated travel wear that could easy fit into their carry-on luggage.

Being attentive to her clients needs, Diane quickly started designing a few custom items for clients. It didn't take long before she started seeing a few profitable trends 1) her clients would come back to order the same practical garment in a variety of colours and 2) other women who saw the clothing on her clients were begging to find out where they could buy Diane's collection.

For years, Diane and her business partners served a loyal clientele of savvy shoppers and expanded their market thanks to the social fact that women LOVE sharing great finds with other women.

At some point in her expanding business, Diane was dying to go further than the borders of the Toronto market. She strongly felt that if her clothing was so well received by her local clients and the few international clients who were exposed to the brand, there surely would be others.

A few months following a successful e-commerce launch Diane gave up her Avenue Road location and ran the business from her home office.

Diane's business was flourishing and she was establishing herself as one of THE travel designers in the country and everything was fairly perfect in her business until she was faced with a tragic and life altering event. Diane's business partner started having headaches and started forgetting information. She went to the doctor to see what was going on and found out a few weeks later that she was diagnosed with brain cancer and had little time to live. Diane spent many days by business partner's side in the hospital. Tragically, her partner died very shortly after receiving the diagnosis. That event had a profound impact on Diane's business and personal life.

After the passing of her partner Diane changed the way she conducted business. She realized life was precious and there must be a better way to work without it taking over your whole existence. She still wanted to serve her clients, but the passing of her business partner made her realize to what point she wanted to spend more time with her family -- she was looking for more balance.

One of the biggest decisions Diane made was to become laser-focused. She knew her ideal client very well and decided to only focus on that client which made her more productive and allowed her to avoid wasting any time with clients who were bargain shoppers.

That's why when it comes to marketing her product, Diane has firmly decided that her product and its price point wouldn't be a good fit for every woman and she focuses on marketing to clients who travel a lot and who are willing to spend the money on an exclusive line of clothing.

This decision influences everything from the fabric she buys to the type of social media messages she shares to which fashion events she participates in.

This decision has even been the reason why after a fairly successful run on the Shopping Channel, she decided not to pursue that market because she just didn't want to lower the quality of her line in order to sell her products at a price point that would be acceptable to most of Shopping Channel's customers.

Although social media has been very successful for Diane in acquiring new clients, good old fashion trunk shows across Canada are the driving force behind her business. When she launches a new Travel Collection, Diane travels across the country meeting women in hotels over a weekend where they can touch, feel, try and most importantly connect with the designer!

She's able to walk away from these profitable events with most of her collection sold out, but she also walks away with valuable feedback she integrates in future collections and that never goes unnoticed among her clients. Something magical happens when you put a woman in front of a mirror and ask her for her opinion on what's reflected in front her eyes. If you combine the power of social proof -- a.k.a. other women sharing their solicited and unsolicited comments, then you find yourself with loads of genuine feedback.

One of the main reasons that explain Diane's incredible success with her Travel Collection is the fact that she's very in tuned with her client's input. Because her clients really feel their opinion is valued, Diane has been able to attract a very loyal group of clients who are such raving fans that they never hesitate to promote her collection on her behalf!

In an ever changing business landscape having this unwavering support from raving fans and buyers is fundamental to sustained growth and profits!