Should you be the best at one thing or good at many things?
I remember as my children were growing up, they all came to the point that they had to make a decision. They were involved in so many activities that they did not have time to get good at any one thing. It requires considerable effort and time to be first chair in the orchestra, captain of the cross-country team, cheerleader, acapella choir, straight-A student, volunteer at the animal shelter, and hold a part-time job to earn some spending money.
Many students do all those activities and more, but only the exceptional students excel in all those things.
And, as a student, it is not a requirement for you to excel in all activities.
But if you want to be really good playing the cello, running cross country, or earn an academic scholarship in chemistry, at some point you need to commit to that activity and place it first in your priorities.
We frequently hear the same concept is true in business—that you need to pick what you are going to be good at and focus on only that.
But is that true? We see many businesses expanding their offerings. Some are small, like pizza restaurants serving other menu items, and some are big, like electronics chains renting automobiles.
My small company used to chase every engineering project we came across. We had offices in multiple cities and were proud of the three-page list of services provided. In reality, however, we were going nowhere fast.
In order to keep our company moving forward, we decided to be selective and focus on just a few market niches. Now we are making significant headway into those identified markets. We have clients search us out just for those specialties. We still have a long way to go, but we now have a direction and momentum that all our employees can be behind.
What we have shown is that in today’s marketplace, small companies like mine cannot maintain the expertise needed to provide a broad range of services and expect to excel in any one service. Small companies that say they can do everything are either exceptional, kidding themselves, or both.
Here are some suggestions based on my experience to tailor your services to a manageable list.
- Pick service that the people who are doing the work are interested in. You, as the owner, are marketing and finding new work, but the people who do the work need to enjoy what they are doing. And if they enjoy the work, they will probably excel at it. Give them an opportunity to be part of the discussion on where the organization will focus efforts.
- Identify market barriers you know you can overcome. Find a service that many potential clients are struggling with and provide a service solving those barriers.
- Find something that clients are willing to pay for but do not need frequently enough to provide themselves. Then, expand your geographical area to include enough clients to make this niche profitable.
- Look at what your competitors are doing poorly. Then launch a marketing campaign to sell your expertise and capture the market. Do not forget to counteract your competitor’s poor service with your own exceptional service.
- Finally, assemble a team of strategically selected small businesses that provide non-competing, ancillary services. Your marketing capacity just expanded as you help them find new customers and they help you find new projects.
We need to remember that in our fast-paced business world, it is easy to get caught up in the daily distractions and chase every shiny opportunity. When that happens, our business loses its purpose.
Furthermore, we lose sight of our true purpose in life—the worship and love of God (see Matthew 22:37). We are told to run our race with our eyes focused on Christ:
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
How can we resist the allure of the world and keep our focus where it belongs, on Christ?
Keep your business model simple and focus on what you do exceptionally well.