A year of narrowing down

List member Ari told me about his year of narrowing down his business focus (and graciously OK’d sharing the following with you):


Hi Philip,

I know you love talking about niching down, and seeing niche conferences and stuff. 

It’s now December. In January you helped me write my first positioning statement, which was “I help R programmers map open data sets”, or something like that. 

Anyway, I just submitted an abstract to The American Community Survey (ACS) Data Users Conference. ACS is the main data product from the Census Bureau.

Who would’ve thought that such a niche conference existed?

And I recently learned about the Association of Public Data Users. A trade organization that – to me at least – sounds fascinating!

It’s funny. I remember on your podcast you once said something like “People are always scared that niching down will make them bored. But when you get into the weeds, stuff really gets exciting.”

I think you were right!

Of course I’m right (about this topic) :).

And of course it’s a bit paradoxical how when you narrow your focus things get more interesting. But that’s depth, for ya! 

A surface exploration of many topics is exciting for a while (and it can even provide a good background for your career if done while you’re young), but businesses that sell expertise need to go deep in order to thrive.

What Ari didn’t mention in his email is the multitude of opportunities that show up on his doorstep now that he’s a year into having a narrow focus for his business. Off the top of my rusty memory, he’s been recruited for a national-level data science advisory position, gets asked to submit articles for publication on prominent blogs, and has been asked to do paid training classes for businesses. I’ll have to persuade Ari to list out all of the opportunities that have come his way some time.

Anyway, 2017 could be your year of narrowed focus. The kind of results Ari’s seen are possible for you too.


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