Since I started freelancing I have noticed something time and time again. Companies all over the nation seem to be suffering from an identity crisis similar to what a teenager goes through in those first painful years of highschool (sans the acne). They silently wonder;
Who am I?
What makes me special?
What are my strengths?
What if I fail because people don’t like what I have to offer?
These are valid questions for both a teen and a business, but it seems that many companies are failing to answer them. I’ve seen web design companies that sell self-help books and IT consulting companies that offer-gasp-landscaping services. It’s like walking into a diner and the hostess asking if you would like your car washed and your teeth cleaned while you wait for your patty melt. It seems businesses are afraid to focus on their strengths and provide specialized services because they think it will limit their market. But, who said a limited market is bad? The sooner you realize that you can’t be everything to everyone- the better off your company will be.
Let’s take that hormonal and confused teen into consideration again- we’ll call her Suzie. On top of school, Mom wants Suzie to play soccer, Dad wants her to be on the debate team, her friends want her to sing in their rock band and she wants to take art classes. Worried Suzie may disappoint her friends and family, she decides to do all of the above. With too much on her plate, it’s not long before she is missing soccer practice, failing Algebra, forgetting the words to her songs and struggling to keep her eyes open through art class. Suzie spread herself too thin by trying to please everyone and, in doing so, she inhibited herself from excelling at anything.
If you want to avoid going down the same path that poor, misguided Suzie did, now is the time to take a long, hard look at what your company has to offer and who you want your market to be. Focus on offering the services and products that your company delivers best and position yourself as the expert in that particular segment. Answer the questions that Suzie did not and you have a MUCH greater chance at surviving in this giant high-school that is the business world. Plus, you’ll have someone to sit with at lunch.