Narrow Your Focus: Expand Your Possibilities
By Jennifer E. Goldman, President
I began 2017 with fewer clients than I had at any given point the previous year. And, obviously, less income. Not exactly the bolster to my business mind that I was hoping for. I was sure I was on the brink of expansion; this would be my year for having so much work I would have to hire, partner, bring in contractors to be able to handle all the projects being handed (hand-over-fist, I was sure) to my company. It was a little disheartening. Instead of forging forward, anyway, I decided instead to take a step back. What was I doing wrong? Or, more likely, what was I neglecting to do? Why wasn’t I where I thought I’d be at the turn of the calendar?
Resonating in my head were the all-too-common comments I’d heard over the past year when describing my business to people: “Government and Community Relations? What IS that? Exactly what do you do?”
People had a fuzzy notion of my business because, even after two years in business, I was trying really hard not to be too narrowly focused. The last thing you want to do in business is not gain clients because you won’t do certain things. I wanted everyone to have the vague notion that I could handle anything they needed. And that’s exactly what happened – it was all too vague, for everyone.
It hit me like a ton of bricks, as well it should have; I know these things, I have a marketing background. I tell other people the same thing that I was ignoring in my own head: NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR CUSTOMER. NOT EVERY SERVICE IS YOUR SPECIALTY.
While it seems counter-intuitive to look for a smaller set of clients, to offer a smaller set of services, it’s exactly what will help define your company. Narrowing your focus allows you to market and engage more effectively with the people and businesses more likely to hire you; to offer a smaller set of services that you are most effective and expert in delivering. Being a well-defined business with a narrower scope is how you find your niche, your target market…your people, your tribe.
All it really takes is a shift in your mind, which allows you to speak more directly and confidently. Once I tightened my focus in my mind, conversations I had with colleagues and local business people become more productive. In the past two weeks every single meeting, networking event, or other business function I’ve attended has resulted in at least one person asking if we could set up a private meeting to talk about a project they’d like to hire my company to work on.
Never be afraid to say what you do, what you excel at, what your preferred projects are, who your ideal clients will be. While you may be turning some people away because they don’t fit your description, what you’ll be left with are all the right clients who have all the best projects. And, hopefully, a lifetime of fulfilling work, a strong business and a lasting legacy.