Jack of All Trades is a Weak Business Strategy

Getting a new business or venture off the ground takes an immense amount of energy.  Not just in the first few months, but for the first few years (and then some).  Without a strategy, a vision, or a raison d’être that allows you to focus on what is important and avoid what is not, your business will more than likely fail.

I’m always amazed at the number of businesses that seem oblivious to this fact.  They start a business (or launch a new venture within a business) with no apparent thought about how they will go to market with a clear value proposition.  In particular, they lack focus.

Frequently they see other companies offering  a range of services and launch a “me too” business.  They try to mirror the established business and match their full set of services – but without the skills, experience or capability to deliver them effectively.

For example, I recently witnessed a business launch a “full service” digital marketing agency.   On day one, they are offering CRM, CMS, SEO, PPC, web design, web development, email marketing, social media consulting, etc.  They have one manager and access to a few software developers.  No real skills to deliver the services.  No experience in the market.  No plan – perhaps a dream, but no plan.

If this business does not fail, it will at best bumble along offering average services to a mixed set of unfortunate customers. Their start-up energy will be spread too thinly and spent chasing every opportunity because anything that moves will become a target.

Avoid the “one stop shop” myth – especially in the start-up phase of your business.  The established players have expanded their products and services over many years.  The successful ones will employ specialists that concentrate on each service rather than generalists trying to service everything.

Start your business with focus.  Be exceptional at something fairly specific.  Ignore the lure of opportunities that pull you away from your focus.  As you grow, hire specialists that are passionate about your core service.

With time (sometimes months, sometimes years), you will build a reputation and become known for something – rather than being unknown for everything.  It will be easier to partner with other companies because you will complement them and not compete directly with them.  Also your target market is far easier to identify which means you can channel your sales and marketing more effectively.

Once you have an established customer base, a glowing reputation and are beyond the “start up” phase, guess what?  You can then start to expand your products and services should you choose to do so (one specialisation at a time).  Offering complementary services to your existing customers to increase their lifetime value (LTV) and expand your market makes sense.  If you don’t have the patience to expand this way organically, then acquire specialists and bring them together – it is the same approach only faster.

The bottom line is don’t try to be all things to all people; start a clearly defined business that has focus at its core.

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