should entrepreneurs specialize?Many entrepreneurs have trodden the same path in the last several years, following the advice of many, those that tell them they should be a niche brand; that this will give them an advantage over others who offer too much of a variety. After all, don’t numerous businesses do that already?

The mistake is in taking the advice literally. Specialization has turned into such a fad, that many entrepreneurs are only skilled at one thing, leaving them at a loss in an economy that may not need them at the moment. Most business and financial experts will tell you, (especially if you are just starting out), to leave specializing until you have been in business for many years, preferably retired and scaling down. By then you will know what you do best and what interests you the most. By that time you will also feel more secure with a part-time income.

Planning your career path far in advance can leave you wondering if you have made the right choices. Content business owners tend to be those who veered from a predictable path many times, often because they found themselves interested in something else. These interests, whether they realized it at the time or not, added value to what they were offering. They became professionals in many things, created a business that was unique and at the same time attracted more customers with their knowledge of products and services that may have been outside of their usual offers.

While some entrepreneurs feel they should focus on a core message in order to be taken seriously – women in particular – there are others who welcome the generalist approach, fearing they will get stuck in one business and in the  future will find they have no way to expand into another. They find that the “following your passion” approach to business leaves a lot of room for accountability and professionalism as well as too many so-so entrepreneurs masquerading as authentic and knowledgeable business people.

The perfect business is one that is a combination of what you are good at and also don’t mind doing. At the same time, it needs to be something that others find value in and will pay you for. Don’t worry that your business won’t be recognized as a niche market. Aim for quality; in your products and services but mostly in how you treat your customers. An established small business can create products for niche markets when it has been around longer and has a loyal and satisfied customer base.   It will be known for what it provides and how it provides it, not just for being a brand.


© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014

Image courtesy of sitepoint