I was a sole proprietor for a handful of years. Many of you know that when you first start out, the first year (or two!) is all about getting your bearings; experimenting with various services, fine tuning the process and figuring out your pricing structure. Many of us get overly excited to learn and offer ALL THE THINGS! We are a one-stop shop! Who’s my ideal customer? EVERYBODY!
Sadly, when we are hungry for all the customers, we may be doing our business more harm than good. If we are too broad and take on too much, our delivery gets watered down and our energy is drained before we can even get started. In other words, our efforts are led away from the projects and clients that are the best fit for what we do. If you run a small business it’s important to consider the following: if you want to grow and thrive, it’s critical that you are as specific as possible and qualify the leads that come through the door.
Understanding the Strength in Specificity
As you get a feel for your business and the market itself, take some time to identify your sweet spot. This is where the magic happens. Your sweet spot can be determined by answering these two very simple questions:
1.) What are you best at?
2.) What do you enjoy doing the most?
For instance, I have a degree in photography and I still love to take pictures. So, when it comes to helping clients with their photographic needs, this is not something that AlchemyThree will outsource—it comes straight to me. On the other hand, I am terrible at doing my books and it also isn’t something that I particularly enjoy. Hence, I’ve hired a bookkeeper. My time and energy is best spent elsewhere. In-house photography also helps to set us apart from other agencies in the area.
Once you’ve figured out what your sweet spot is, think about how to leverage your strengths in a way that also allows you to claim a corner, or niche, within your industry. This is where getting as specific as possible is key.
Let’s say that you own a bakery in a small town with 2 other local bakeries. You’ve tried offering everything: cakes, bread, cookies and pastries but your business is flat and you’re constantly having to lower your price and compromise quality. As it turns out, you’re really great at making beautiful cupcakes with unusual flavors (earl grey, lavender, red velvet and lemon ginger…hmmm…getting hungry) and you could make these yummy treats all day long. Bingo! You launch a new marketing strategy centered around what sets you apart—and your profits go through the roof.
If only it were that easy, right? But if you take the time to analyze your business and ask some tough questions, it may actually be that easy.
“Once you’ve figured out what your sweet spot is, think about how to leverage your strengths in a way that also allows you to claim a corner, or niche, within your industry.”
Apply Specificity to Your Clients Too
When running your own business, it pays to be mindful of the people that you do business with. Within the digital design space for instance, when we take on a new project we are also entering a highly collaborative relationship. We are committed to the client and the project, we are always respectful of their time and resources and it’s crucial that we receive that same kind of respect. As a result, we qualify our clients by asking ourselves the following questions:
- Is this client willing to follow our process?
- Does this client have a budget that they are willing to discuss?
- Is this client respectful of our time and the services we provide?
We know that if the answers are yes across the board, we’re in good shape and will likely schedule a chat to get more information and potentially move forward with the project.
Your Take Away
Trust me: the more specific you become, the more successful your business will be. Take 30 minutes to clarify your unique approach:
- Find your sweet spot
- Identify what sets you apart from the competition
- Establish a series of questions that help you to identify the right customer/client for your business.