The pressure to be ‘more’
Theodore Roosevelt couldn’t be more accurate when he said ‘comparison is the thief of joy’.
The pressure to be more, earn more or do more, is more often that not, self-imposed by expectations we create based on comparisons. As business owners, we wear multiple hats and try to keep up with what we think our customers want, or what our competitors seem to be doing.
This diversity of roles is a part of what attracted me to being a small business owner. I didn’t like being ‘boxed in’ or ‘labelled’ as being only one thing, especially when I had the option of being skilled in multiple areas. I had a lot of interests, so why should I pick just one thing? I wanted to keep things ‘flexible’.
Why a broad focus can be limiting
While there is nothing wrong with being skilled in multiple areas, when we focus too broadly, and on too many things, we never become specialists, masters or experts. We simply can’t, because our time and effort is split between multiple areas of interest.
Over time, this inability to focus, hone in and practice what we are best at affects our job satisfaction and limits the earning potential of our businesses.
Deciding to do less
I was always the employee who wore multiple hats, who then became the business owner who thought we needed to be a ‘full service’ agency like everyone else and offer EVERYTHING.
But, when we placed a focus on developing our brand, we realised that being everything to everyone meant we were not known for anything. And, if we weren’t known for anything in particular, then the chance that we would stand out to our potential customers amongst a sea of competitors was slim to none.
By choosing not to offer certain services and by placing a focus on fewer core areas of our business, we now have more time and energy to work on our areas of speciality.
Deciding what you don’t want to do, or what isn’t valuable to your business allows you to focus more energy on what you’re best at, where you can provide the most value and the work that is most profitable. In essence, you can optimise your output by focusing on your strengths.
How specialising can earn you more
For many businesses, the answer to ‘what do you do’ is a laundry list of items. But, does a more extensive offering actually earn you more?
It seems logical that the more products or services you offer, the more earning potential you have, or that more market share means more money. But, consider a heart surgeon (specialist) versus a general practitioner (generalist). Who can command a premium price? Whose skills are more sought after? Who has fewer competitors?
How about in the restaurant business— if you have a craving for pasta, would you rather go to the Italian restaurant that specialises in their pasta dishes, or the restaurant that has pasta as one of its many menu items? Who can command a premium price for their pasta? Whose pasta dishes are more sought after? Who has fewer competitors?
A specialist, who has a narrower offering has more earning potential, higher demand and fewer competitors.
So would you rather be the specialist or the generalist?
Doing a few things, really well
A part of your brand strategy should be understanding the place that you can own within your market. Branding begins by determining why you’re in business, who you serve, what you do and how you do it, to the exclusion of everything else.
As a part of this process, it’s important to be selective about your product and service offerings. Saying you do everything, is equivalent to having no strategy at all. When you focus your offering, you can start building a reputation for something clear and specific.
Here are a few questions to help you to narrow your focus—
- What is profitable? You will likely have products or services that earn you a greater profit than others. As a business owner, you need to focus on what is lucrative and consider either removing or reworking what is not.
- Where do your strengths and interests lie? If you aren’t passionate about it, don’t enjoy doing it, or don’t believe in it, you probably shouldn’t be selling it.
- What is valuable? Which of your offerings to your customers value the most?
I strongly believe that when we focus on being better at fewer things, we not only build a more profitable, stronger brand, but experience more personal satisfaction and achievement in our careers.
While you might still have to do your own bookkeeping or marketing until you can afford to hire some help, you always have complete control over how you make your money, and you don’t need to do everything to be successful.
Is it time to simplify what you do? It’s a scary, but rewarding process! Share this article with someone you know that needs to refocus their business offerings and, if you want to add to the conversation, leave me a comment below.
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