Search your feelings...

Philip Morgan

Recently, someone emailed me a good question about a post I wrote.In the post I said:------There are 3 basic approaches you can take to deciding how to focus your business:

  1. Find your people and serve them
  2. Find your head start and build on that
  3. Pioneer something new that's not based on the other 2 approaches

_#1 you can almost certainly implement on your own._If you'd like help with #2 or #3, my services might be a fit.------The question was "why #1 is a more DIY-friendly option?"The simple answer: I think options #2 and #3 require more market research, whereas option #1 is basically the "search your feelings and go with it" option.ImageThe more complete answer is that any of these options--or none of them--can be done with no market research. Whether you invest the time and energy in market research before specializing is really a question of your risk tolerance.Could you decide how to specialize by throwing a dart at a list of options and going with the one the dart lands on? Yes you could, if you have a sort of "mercenary" approach to your business and don't need to feel a personal connection with your work.On the other hand, could you specialize in serving a type of client that you feel great affection for and use the strength of your emotional connection to them to make your specialization work? Why yes, you could! If your desire to help this type of client is strong enough you'll figure out a way to build a business around serving them.Finally, could you look for a hole in the market and build a business that dominates that hole in the market? You're already mouthing the words... Yes. Yes, you could do that.The truth is that if you look at how 100 or 1000 successfully specialized businesses approached the question of how to specialize, you'll see lots of variations in how they approach things. The resulting market positions these specializations cultivate fall into 5 basic buckets, but how they got there is where you see the most variation.In other words, lots of things can work.The question is, what will work best for you?If you want to raise the odds of specializing successfully, then you should choose an approach that is a good fit for your personality and risk tolerance.I say this with the utmost respect and (hopefully) kindness: most of you are not mercenaries in business. You have the potential to do great things, but you are not made of the same stuff as "business mercenaries". (I'm not either) You need to be able to put both your mind and your heart into your business. You need to give a damn about your work and your clients, otherwise why not take a W2 position where you don't have to worry about all this business development stuff?When I work with clients in my Positioning Accelerator Program or 1:1 Retainer, the process tends to go like this:

  1. Based on your personality, I recommend one of the three approaches listed above
  2. Based on your risk tolerance, I recommend how much market research is appropriate
  3. With my supervision, you conduct lots, some, or no market research
  4. Based on all of the above, I recommend a customized specialization approach tailored for you
  5. Based on the chosen specialization approach, we craft a lead generation practice based on your strengths and preferences
  6. Optionally: I provide advisory support with the lead generation implementation

-PP.S. Know a self-employed software developer who might benefit from specialization? Send 'em this free gift! Details here --> /referrals/