You’ve Gotta Pick a Lane

My friend Dawn recently published an article about political activism. In it she writes that if you want to actually accomplish anything, it’s important to focus on only one or two issues. Nothing gets accomplished when you’re trying to do everything all at once. I thought immediately about how the message applies to your business too.

Too many solopreneurs and business owners are running down too many paths. It’s an exhausting exercise in futility. In order to make a real impact, you have to focus on the most important thing. You hear people talking about priorities all the time. When you Google the word priority, you see it defined as “a thing that is regarded as more important than another.” So you technically can’t have five or 10 priorities. You can have ONE.

In business, you can’t truly have five or 10 areas of focus. Pick one, maybe two if they’re closely related.

Have you ever met someone who, when you ask “what do you do?” comes back with “Well, I’m a real estate agent and I also run a social media marketing company. On Mondays I teach guitar lessons to kids. Oh, and I have a wedding planning business. Sometimes I help my husband with bookkeeping for his landscaping company.” Holy freaking cow! Really? You do all that?

You can NOT seriously be focused and good at doing ALL those things! I walk away from that conversation thinking this person is a disorganized mess. And there is no way I would call on her for any of those services, much less send her a referral.

Of course you want to have a full life and not miss out on anything. But when you can’t quickly and easily state your area of expertise, more often than not, it’s a case of hedging your bets. You’re not confident enough in your abilities to focus on one thing and say you’re an expert in that area.

Think about it though. Experts get paid more than generalists. Cardiologists get paid more than general practitioners. And if I had a heart condition, I want the best cardiologist I can find – not someone who dabbles in heart health and also podiatry and sells hearing aids on the side!

When it comes to your business, you need to pick a lane. What do you do and how do you do it? How exactly you define your lane is up to you and open for discussion. Some people define a niche by industry – “I work with high tech sales professionals.” That’s one way to go. You can also define your market by the size of their business – say companies with $10-50 million in gross revenue. Or by certain characteristics or demographics, such as vegetarian women who work full-time and have young children in day care. You have a million choices here.

You can carefully define exactly what you offer so you attract only those who need exactly what you can deliver. I’m thinking of my friend and mentor Jan, who teaches people to be BOLD speakers. She doesn’t narrow her market to any one industry or demographic. She defines her ideal people as those who want to become better speakers. They might be in corporate or own their own business or work for the government. Doesn’t matter if they’re men, women, CEOs, emerging leaders, engineers, or sales people. What’s important is her clear definition of what she does and what she delivers. So everyone knows, if you want to be a BOLD speaker, you work with Jan.

I guide quiet girls from feeling intimidated in networking situations to confidently starting conversations with strangers so they can build relationships that support the success their businesses.

Are you as clear about what benefit you provide and to whom? If you’re not, you’re making it a thousand times more difficult on yourself to get clients and for people to send you referrals.

Clarity leads to action.

When people know who you are, what you do, and exactly with whom you work best, they can refer business to you. If they’re confused, they’ll just move on. We don’t have the patience or attention span to spend time figuring it out. Make it easy to understand and easy to remember what you stand for. Once you do that, when you go to networking events, you can confidently share your excitement and expertise and stand out in the mind of the people you meet.

Need help with clearly defining what you do, how and for whom? Let’s set up a quick call to see if I can be of service in helping you get clarity around your marketing message.

photo credits: stressed woman & confused emoticon ©


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