There was a time when people liked being well rounded and versatile with many different skills. Many people went to liberal arts colleges and got a degree in a general subject field rather than something specific. Now there are specialties within a field and even sub-specialties within that.
It’s nice to have a broad background and a general level of experience to draw upon, but as knowledgeable as we might be about many different areas, it’s hard to be accomplished in several of them. Take a builder. There are different sized homes, different price points, different audiences or clientele for whom the homes are being built or sold, and different levels of finishes that are achieved and expected within those homes at those various sizes and price points.
It’s important that we understand what we are really good at doing and what we like to do – hopefully, these are the same because that create harmony and translates to our doing a great job with something we already enjoy doing. If we are engaged in doing something that we might do well but really don’t care to be doing it, sooner or later we will tire of it or look for ways to get the task done as soon as possible rather than looking for ways to improve upon it and do it even better than what the client expects.
After we determine what we are good at doing – and what we enjoy doing to the extent that we would only do this if we could – we need to make sure that everyone else knows this about us. First, it becomes part of our business model. Second, we share it on our website and social media profiles and postings. Third, we tell our professional colleagues, clients, and strategic partners so they can help us with referrals.
One of the reasons that we specialize is so that we can interpret potential jobs that come our way and decide if they are a good fit for us. If the money is good enough, we might have a tendency to accept it anyway – figuring that we can stretch and grow into an assignment that is a little beyond our customary work product.
The issue with this is twofold: first, not only are we going to need to stretch to accommodate a client that has a budget much above or considerably below what we typically do (it works both ways, although let’s focus on getting an assignment that has a much higher budget that what we normally see), but the subcontractors we hire to help us complete the job may not have this experience or mindset either. Trying to pass ourselves off as knowing more than we do or delivering a higher-end product or solution than is typical for us is asking for trouble.
The second issue in attempting to do work that is outside the boundaries of what we have decided is our main area of focus – in terms of where the home is located geographically, the size of it, the age of the structure, the overall budget, and the type and needs of the client – is that we will have intentionally pulled ourselves away from our main business to pursue a secondary (albeit lucrative for the moment) path. While following that path, we will necessarily have ignored our primary clientele and may find it difficult to return to where we were and recover immediately. The ground that we lost may take some time to reestablish.
We want to make sure that what the client expects from us is what we enjoy doing and that we are up to the task because this is our defined specialty. When we know what we do and actually promote our business as the one that engages in this type of service, product, or solution, people will seek us out and want to talk with us when their needs match our abilities.
This way we can be honest with ourselves and our clients. They know what types of services we specialize in – and so do we. When it’s not a clear match, we should pass on the proposed assignment and let someone else handle it. If it’s a case of having some knowledge of how to approach a solution for the client but our strengths are elsewhere, we can joint venture with someone who can provide this with us or use them as a strategic partner. Here, we are being true to ourselves, the client is getting what they need, and we are fostering a relationship that may pay future dividends. There is nothing that says that the client can only have one specialist (us) working on their home, Why not bring them an entire team of specialists?