Article Archive

If getting better at attracting opportunity via your expertise is interesting to you, these articles will help.

Online Micro Workshop: Specialization

I recently consulted with a $9MM agency on their positioning.

Their main fear about making the decision?

What will the market think? And how can we know for sure how they will react to our changed specialization focus?

They’re not alone. Almost everyone I’ve led through the specialization decision making process shares this uncertainty, and the fear it can create.

It’s a reasonable fear. You face far less uncertainty when you consider these other elements of specializing:

  • What markets do you have the best access to?
  • What markets do you have the most insight into?
  • Where does your track record offer good credibility?
  • What do your current/previous clients think about the potential change?

But that question… what will the market think? It haunts us.

I used to recommend deep, interview-based market research to resolve this uncertainty. I now think that level of investment is excessive for most situations.

I think you can de-risk (meaning remove some but not all uncertainty from) the question of what the market will think with a cheap, fast experiment involving a small (tiny, really) content asset and direct outreach.

You didn’t sign up for this online micro workshop; I’m just sending it to my entire list as a way to kick my own ass into getting it done so I can turn it into an automated sequence for https://philipmorganconsulting.com/core-skills-workshops/pmc-csw-specialization/. And who knows, maybe it’ll sell a few more seats in the specialization workshop!

It’ll be 3 action-oriented emails, an explanation of how it connects with the expanded experience you’ll get from the $700 8-week workshop starting October 8, and a few reminders to consider signing up for that workshop.

Micro-Workshop Part 1

Here’s the entire process for deciding how to specialize:

  1. Assess your current situation by inventorying past experience, areas of interest, and entrepreneurial theses.
  2. Assess your risk profile.
  3. Create a shortlist of specialization opportunities.
  4. Apply guardrails to your shortlist.
  5. Choose depth of validation for your shortlist options.
  6. Implementation.

In this micro workshop, we’ll focus on steps 1 through 4, and today just step 1.

You probably think you understand your current situation and the specialization opportunities it contains. You might be right, but I’ve found that when I ask folks to write it down, they see the situation differently. More objectively. Or they remember things they’d forgotten. Or they notice patterns they hadn’t seen before.

Your micro workshop homework for today is: create an inventory. Here’s how to do that.

Making The Inventory

Use a spreadsheet for your inventory. It will make organizing it and looking for patterns much easier.

Inventory everything you’ve ever done for clients, employers, and any substantial side-projects. For each thing in your inventory, include:

  • Client name
  • Market vertical that client is in
  • The business outcome of what you did for that client

Add to your inventory all abilities to move the needle for clients that you currently have. The following are examples of these kind of abilities:

  • Increase conversion rate on e-commerce stores
  • Reduce downtime for critical infrastructure
  • Integrate ERP with other systems
  • Reduce cognitive load of using software

Add to your inventory all entrepreneurial theses you’re interested in possibly pursuing. The difference between this and the previous step is that to pursue an entrepreneurial thesis, you might have to put together a team, or rent skill you don’t have, or build something that requires up-front investment, or just generally take on more risk — perhaps by pursuing a specialization you just can’t validate but you believe deeply in — as part of building your market position.

This is a WORKshop. Yes, you didn’t sign up for it per se, but if it’s landing at the right time for you, do consider doing the WORK. Today, that’s the inventory I described above.

In the next installment (Monday) we’ll get to the next step, which is characterizing your inventory in a somewhat objective way and connecting the inventory to your personal risk tolerance.

-P

There’s a more information-oriented, longer, less action-oriented version of this process here: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/specializing-and-positioning-an-independent-consulting-business/

People doing interesting things

What you are up to — notes from readers

  • David Baker has put together a page that gives you access to his entire free COVID webinar series, many of which will be relevant and useful to you: https://www.davidcbaker.com/free-covid19-webinar-series
  • Right on schedule, Sarah Avenir and her team at &Yet have supplied another item for this section, this time in the form of one of the most striking dev shop home pages I’ve ever seen: https://andyet.com/ The page contains point of view, brand-building, and a structured offer based on a process that is not the narcolepsy-inducing 3 or 4-step process where every word starts with the letter d.

To share your news, projects, and events, fill out this mercifully brief form and I’ll share the relevant ones back to this list: https://airtable.com/shrggV8bWtGa2JMxG

Remember that tomorrow I’m livestreaming the next TEI Talk, showing some examples of how others make use of daily publication. Details: https://www.mixily.com/event/3596848038998203281. You can drop by and chat with us during the stream at https://www.twitch.tv/twitchyphilipmorgan, starting at 10am Mountain time.

Keep building, keep taking risks y’all,
-P

Q&A: How to work with companies that sell products that make a differeence

Q&A

My post opt-in form yielded this combination of vision for impact and question from a new list member:

Vision: Work with companies that want to sell products that really make a difference in the lives of their customers

Question: Where to start and also how to be recognized as such.

This is a variation of the bootstrapping question, the general form of which goes like this: how do I get hired for significantly different/better work than I get hired for now? In other words, how do I bootstrap improvement in my business?

The world is a big, complex place, and so there are probably dozens if not hundreds of things that could answer the bootstrapping question. I recommend one framework, and I’ll express it using our questioner’s language:

Consider companies that sell products that really make a difference in the lives of their customers. Figure out where they struggle to make good decisions within a part of the company where you have some interest and expertise. For the most high-impact of those decisions, invest in figuring out solutions, either by thinking-through-writing, primary research, or (ideally) both. Make your solutions freely available through published writing or other means, and also make them expensively available through consulting, digital products, or other means. Your solutions do not need to be complete, final solutions; they can take the form of focused, incremental optimization.

I’m describing a process that involves work, risk-taking, and growth. I don’t trust seemingly easier or more cookie-cutter methods to produce durable results, just like I don’t trust the lottery to produce durable wealth.

  • Start with specialization. You already have a general direction (companies that sell products that really make a difference in the lives of their customers) but you’ll need to commit to greater specificity. You can tweak or change that commitment at any time; it’s not a face tattoo. But do commit. If you can’t make a list of 10 companies that fit your specialization within 15 minutes, then you haven’t focused, committed, or gotten to know the market sufficiently. Consider my specialization workshop if you need help with this: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/core-skills-workshops/pmc-csw-specialization/
  • Exhaust and surpass what you know about this market, their needs, and their risks. Depending on your starting point, you might do this through publishing a lot, primary research, client work, or a combination of those three. Once you reach the boundaries of what you know, keep going. It hurts for a protracted moment, and then if you “break through the wall”, it’s exhilarating. The Expertise Incubator helps you with this process: http://theexpertiseincubator.com/.

Thanks for the question!

-P

Events of Note

Events of Note

Trust engines

Your business has a trust engine. Where is it located in the car’s chassis?

Are you a Porsche (rear engine) or a Supra (conventional front engine) car?

Does your business build trust during project delivery (Porsche)? Or before (thought leadership/authority)? Or both?

Obviously this is an oversimplification. Most businesses can do some level of trust-building at various points along the journey. In our metaphor, that would mean the car has several engines; maybe a small underdeveloped one in the front and a powerful, refined one in the rear. So yes; I’ve oversimplified here.

Yet, there’s a truth in that oversimplification: it’s hard to have two good engines in the car if you have the kind of constraints many tiny or solo businesses have.

-P

The “man boobs” email

In tomorrow’s livestreamed TEI Talk, I’ll explain my famous “man boobs” email, and how it relates to subscriber/reader value. That talk happens at 10am Mountain time tomorrow (Friday). More details and calendar link: https://www.mixily.com/event/6375910778643827

This is a somewhat meditative moment from my practice run-through of that talk:

- Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

I’m archiving these talks here: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/the-expertise-incubator/tei-curriculum/


I don’t often ask my clients for testimonials. The percentage that benefit from working with me tend to spread the word without me asking them. (Thanks, y’all!)

With things that are new in the market, like my online workshops, I do ask for testimonials to help bootstrap the new offering’s marketplace acceptance.

Here’s Guillaume talking about his experience with the Point of View Workshop:

- Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

Source: https://youtu.be/mtWbawNcpo8

Remember, I designate 20% of the seats in each workshop as scholarship seats. If the pandemic or something else has kicked your business’s ass, I’d love to see you grab a reduced or no-cost scholarship seat to get some help getting things back in order.

And if you can afford the full price, then don’t be afraid to put some skin in the game. It’s pseudo-scientifically proven to help you get better results!

Specialization workshop details: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/core-skills-workshops/pmc-csw-specialization/

Point of View workshop details: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/core-skills-workshops/point-of-view/

-P

The “don’t have to think about it” premium

Why can Apple charge a premium for their hardware?

This is the question you might ponder after your new, ~3-month old Mac Mini dies. And then you might spend most of the next 2 weeks thinking about hardware alternatives for your workflow, which is 95% stuff — writing, Zoom meetings — that would work fine on a $900 Macbook Air but the remaining 5% is video streaming and editing that gets dramatically better if you have desktop hardware and the only computer that Apple ships that isn’t a laptop or mobile computer glued to the back of a very nice display is the Mac Pro. The aforementioned Mac Mini is a laptop motherboard inside a desktop-ey case, with all the attendant expansion, serviceability, and heat dissipation issues that come with that format. I should know. I pulled that sucker apart a half-dozen times to re-seat or swap RAM trying to get it fixed. 🙂

You’ve heard, perhaps, of the Uncanny Valley. Wikipedia:

In aesthetics, the uncanny valley is a hypothesized relationship between the degree of an object’s resemblance to a human being and the emotional response to such an object. The concept suggests that humanoid objects which imperfectly resemble actual human beings provoke uncanny or strangely familiar feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers. “Valley” denotes a dip in the human observer’s affinity for the replica, a relation that otherwise increases with the replica’s human likeness.

- Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley)

There seems to be something similar with computing systems, and perhaps with services more generally.

Apple ships hardware on both ends of this spectrum and strenuously avoids the middle of it. Want laptop/mobile computer glued to the back of a nice screen that integrates with a very safe, functional services ecosystem? Apple has shipped way over a billion of them. Want something at the extreme other end of the spectrum? Apple offers a Mac Pro, and sells some; certainly a miniscule fraction of what they sell at the low end of the spectrum.

Want a mid-priced computer you can throw a badass GPU into and make a few other tweaks to? Forget about it. This is Apple’s Uncanny Valley.

You could argue a variety of reasons why Apple avoids this part of the spectrum. It’s the “red ocean”, crowded with PC competition. Or it increases support cost. Or Jony Ive didn’t like it.

My current theory — admittedly tinged with a bit of frustration about this Mac Mini — is that Apple wants to make computers for people who want to compute but without having to think about computers. Apple wants to ship devices that compute but do computing so invisibly that you don’t really think of them as computers. Opening up the device — or even being able to open up the device — interferes with this goal.

This approach has been successful! There really is something to this idea of avoiding the Uncanny Valley and providing a “don’t have to think about it” offering to a large market.

Simon Wardley has done a good job of describing how — over time — parts of a value chain move towards commodity or utility status and how this is a good thing because it enables new forms of innovation and value creation.

- Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

(Source: https://medium.com/@petecohen/wardley-mapping-a-communication-and-learning-tool-dbb3545db716)

Normally the move towards commodity/utility status involves a reduction in profit margin. Apple’s ongoing magic trick is avoiding this reduction in profit. There are competing theories about how they do it, but I think offering a “don’t have to think about it” option to the market is part of their success.

How do you make “don’t have to think about it” into a premium price for your services? Here’s an incomplete list of options:

  • More/better data, so clients don’t have to trust your judgement as much.
  • More charisma, so clients gain trust in your ability to lead them through a change you could never really gather data to support anyway because it’s at the leading edge of innovation.
  • More systematized communication throughout a project, so clients feel taken care of in the small things and therefore don’t start to worry about the big things.
  • Packaged services with fixed pricing so clients don’t have to wonder about estimating and managing cost during the project.
  • An authoritative book on a niche topic, so clients don’t have to wonder if you know what you’re talking about.

I’m not saying any of these are right for you and your business, but all of them could contribute to a “don’t have to think about it” experience for some clients, and that could in many cases be a way to justify more premium pricing.

Events Of Note

Q&A

“How to avoid choosing a dead-end area to specialize in.”

That’s a question that rolled in via my post opt-in survey, and I love its brutal honesty.

Dear questioner: you are not alone in this concern. It’s broadly shared by those who are considering specializing.

Here’s a useful way to think about this question: Are you willing to generate demand for your services, or would you rather that be done by others?

If you choose the first option — generating your own demand — then you will be free of specialization dead-ends, at the cost of a challenging but rewarding learning curve.

If you choose the second option — relying on others to generate demand for your services — then you are more likely to face dead-ends when you specialize.

I’m sure there’s a bit more nuance to it than that, but that remains a useful simplification of the choice we all face.

Here’s the additional nuance:

  1. You can view platform specialization as an automatic eventual dead-end. Details: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/indie-experts-list/the-death-of-a-market-position/
  2. There are limits to everyone’s ability to generate demand. You can’t force the market to want what you sell if the market simply doesn’t want it.
  3. That said, when you take responsibility for generating demand for your services, you gain multiple degrees of freedom. The source of that freedom is insight into the market and presence with the market.
  4. Deep insight into the market requires empathy.
  5. Cultivating empathy for a market is ultimately what creates freedom from specialization dead-ends because that empathy causes you to be willing to abandon unviable ideas.
  6. Your entrepreneurial instinct, combined with empathy for a market, both frees you from specialization dead-ends and leads you to opportunities to make real money while serving the market.

Thank you, dear questioner, for this one!

What you are up to — notes from readers

Here are a few interesting visions for impact contributed via my post opt-in form:

  • I help photographers, retouchers, and digital artist gain the confidence to tackle complicated problems in photoshop, reduce the time they spend in photoshop to make more money, and say yes to more of their clients’ requests.
  • Catering: An enchased guest experience, Increased sales, loess waste and a more satisfying work environment!
  • I wish to help my clients change and transform their inner limiting belief patterns that prevent them from moving forward.

To share your news, projects, and events, fill out this mercifully brief form and I’ll share the relevant ones back to this list: https://airtable.com/shrggV8bWtGa2JMxG

Keep building, keep taking risks y’all,
-P

Orphan Problems

The people I know who have the most interesting and lucrative careers have adopted “orphan problems”.

These are problems that exist at sufficient scale and severity in the marketplace, but there’s no corresponding academic or credentialing path that supplies us with licensed experts to solve them.

So, these folks become self-made experts in solving these orphan problems, and they enjoy significant freedom in how they monetize that expertise, at the cost of working damn hard for a while and embracing significant risk along the way.

The Expertise Incubator is a framework I invented to help folks like you find and adopt orphan problems, and cultivate valuable expertise in service of solving those problems.

This Friday at 10am Mountain time, I’m kicking off a series of TEI Talks where I walk you through this framework.

If this is interesting to you, join me. Details: https://www.mixily.com/event/3972783778176302335

-P

A few more days of early bird pricing remain on the specialization and POV workshops, both starting in October.

Something about what happens when we talk

An amazing thing about Lucinda Williams is that she seems to insist on performing with musicians who are better than she is, and by so doing she creates a superior live experience.

I used to work at this outfit called TBA Entertainment when I lived in Nashville, and one of the people there had run live sound for some Lucinda Williams shows. She said that Lucinda always liked to get Emmylou Harris up on stage for a few songs, and she had to turn Lucinda’s mic on those duets WAY down because Lucinda sang so off key and Emmylou sang so perfectly on key.

But those SONGS that Lucinda writes! That and the way her voice emotes; that’s her irreplaceable contribution. The magic would probably shine through on a show with lesser supporting musicians, but why diminish the experience just so the singer can be the best musician on stage?

Here’s a good one for you today:

- Experiential marketing learning for independent consultants

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRtMZDJdIIU

Events of Note

  • Virtually meet and interview more than 50 local-to-ABQ professional female tech talents looking for new opportunities. (I’m passing along an event that landed in my inbox and might of interest to those of you looking to hire devs.) Details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womenhack-albuquerque-employer-ticket-3009-virtual-tickets-102662817250
  • See how experts can apply content organization best practices to their site. Last week, Jim Thornton gave a great lecture and answered questions from livestream attendees (recording: https://youtu.be/ykprm9WQzmo). The topic was how experts can better organize their content for the audience they’re trying to reach, help, and possibly transform. This is not standard SEO best practices stuff. Jim’s perspective is rooted firmly in an understanding of how experts work and how they tend to think by writing, which creates unique problems that he suggests solutions for. You can catch the recording of tomorrow’s event later, or you can attend the livestream and ask questions. Details: https://www.mixily.com/event/2474294566021136156

Going Remote

Two items felt connected by more than the fact that they both ended up in my Instapaper queue:

This blog post from Steve Blank has some interesting findings from instructors who have done some early experimentation with taking IRL education online: http://steveblank.com/2020/08/11/teaching-lean-innovation-in-the-pandemic/

“Zoom is the Napster of the event industry, the ease with which you can put on good-enough virtual events with a global audience, almost for free, much to the undercutting of the underlying economics of the physical events world. All types of business event — conferences, trade shows, conventions — are in danger of their revenues streams of tickets, sponsorships, memberships, and other types of fees being eroded as the world gets used to digital formats and alternatives emerge to physical networking, matchmaking and other tasks we get out of these events.” — https://skift.com/2020/08/26/the-event-industry-is-being-confronted-by-its-napster-moment/

My guess about the future role of IRL events is: more expensive, way more special, and somewhat more rare. No longer the default as the barely-good-enough online replacements get better. Some of that is tech, and some of this is knowing how to put together an online event that’s worth attending live.

What you are up to — notes from readers

To share your news, projects, and events, fill out this mercifully brief form and I’ll share the relevant ones back to this list: https://airtable.com/shrggV8bWtGa2JMxG

Keep building, keep taking risks y’all,
-P

Testing a specialization hypothesis with a live market test

A TEI participant said he was feeling guilty about not publishing as much as he wanted to.

I said: open your calendar, go to the Monday 2 weeks from now, and add a calendar item that says “Resume feeling guilty”. Until then, I’ve granted you a guilt vacation.

He just returned from that guilt vacation and said it helped.

What do you need a guilt vacation from?

Events of note

  • Remember the upcoming livestreamed TEI Talks series. You don’t really need to register since you can just show up during livetime on my Twitch or YouTube channel, but you can see those livetime date/times and get calendar reminders here: https://www.mixily.com/listing/6423681705591831629 I’ll be talking about using publishing and research as a “side door” to rapid expertise cultivation. Hope to see you in the chat window during these talks.
  • Jim Thornton is offering a free workshop on how experts should organize the content on their website. It’s a 2-parter. The first one is tomorrow, September 1 and the second part is a week later. You can watch and chat with us via livestream. Links to further details for part 1 and part 2.
  • David Baker did a really interesting webinar deep dive into his own content marketing approach. David’s business model is the kind many of us are building towards: solo indie consultant, expertise-driven, powerful personal brand, excellent leverage of IP. So this is a particularly relevant one of his webinar series. I didn’t find a page where the links live, so I’m instead ripping the video and audio links from the recent email where he provided them.
  • Join me and 29 other experts who’ll help you attract, win, and service better clients. Catch a new talk Monday through Friday at 10am PST, September 21 – October 30, including people like David C. Baker, Blair Enns, Sean D’Souza, Jonathan Stark, and more. Registration is totally free – grab your spot now at https://servedontsell.com/clientcon.
  • Warley Mapping is a lightweight strategy tool. I’ve been learning more and finding Simon Wardley’s live talks the most useful way to do so. There’s an all-day online event called Map Camp coming up on October 13. I don’t know how basic/advanced it’s going to be, but I’ll probably drag my ass out of bed at 1:30am Mountain time to be a part of this event: https://leadingedgeforum.com/events/map-camp-online/ I’m interested in both the content and seeing how they structure a 1-day online educational event.

Q&A

A question from my post opt-in survey:

What is your vision for impact?

I want to use my expertise as a design consultant to help Shopify stores make more money by teaching them how to make informed design decisions and provide clarity and insights into their customers’ motivations.

What’s your #1 question about specialization, positioning, lead generation, or moving into advisory work?

How to test if there is a market for my positioning

This is a juicy one!

I’m copy/pasting the next bit from this guide to specializing/positioning, but it’s relevant and important in thinking about this question.

The most beautiful specialization hypothesis in the world is worthless if the market doesn’t care within a timeframe that matches yours. That’s why we seek validation for our ideas — our hypotheses — about how we might specialize our business.

There are 4 ways you can validate:

  1. Blind pivot
  2. Guardrail-and-go
  3. Deep market research
  4. Live market test

Blind Pivot: A blind pivot is only considered validation based on a technicality. With a blind pivot, you choose the specialization hypothesis that seems best to you and go with it. You assess, create a shorterlist, choose the one that seems best to you, and implement. You “just do it”. Validation or invalidation of your hypothesis eventually happens, but it takes months or years, and risks business failure and opportunity cost.

A blind pivot is post-validation rather than pre-validation.

Guardrail-and-go: You choose from your head start or your heart and apply sensible guardrails (healthy market size, documented interest, etc.) to eliminate excessively risky options. After that, you choose the specialization option you like the most and implement. You can also simply copy a specialized competitor and implement. With the Guardrail-and-go approach, you are not validating directly with the market, you are looking at proxies for market demand (presence of competitors, etc.) and using the presence of those proxies as evidence of sufficient market demand.

The guardrail-and-go approach is quick-and-dirty pre-validation. You’ll notice I’ve already told you to apply some guardrails in the previous step of this decision making process. That’s because the ROI on this work is high enough that it’s worth doing no matter what. I don’t consider it an optional validation step; it’s just a natural part of the right way to make a specialization decision.

Deep market research: With this approach, you reach validation through market research interviews with buyers in the market you might focus on. Your research might actually generate the hypothesis, as is done in innovation-focused research, or it might validate/invalidate your specialization hypothesis. Research styles include Customer Development (Cindy Alvarez) & JTBD (Alan Klement).

The deep market research approach is time-intensive pre-validation. I rarely recommend this approach anymore except in cases where you’re pursuing an entrepreneurial thesis.

Live market test: With a live market test, you build a free gift of knowledge for the market, directly distribute it (1:1 emails or LinkedIn messages, posts on intimate forums or Slack/Discord channels), and ask for feedback on the gift. There are other ways you could run a live market test (run ads pointing to a landing page, etc.) but for indie consultants, directly distributing a free gift of knowledge and pointedly asking for feedback on it is the best approach.

For most indie consultants, the live market test is a good middle ground between the deep market research method, which has considerable time cost, and the guardrail-and-go method, which generates no actual evidence from the demand side of the market.

Again, the most beautiful specialization hypothesis in the world is worthless if the market doesn’t care within a timeframe that matches yours. The live market test delivers visceral evidence about whether the market cares about your potential way of specializing.

But! How much validation you invest in is up to you. It’s your decision. Some of you will have the risk profile and existing business momentum to do less validation. Others will want to extensively de-risk the decision by carrying out more validation. If you decide to de-risk by doing some validation before you implement your new specialization, I recommend the live market test.

Back to the question at hand

Our questioner here has a hypothesis. I’m going to reword their vision for impact as a specialization hypothesis:

I believe there is a market of Shopify stores that see a clear connection between knowing how to make informed design decisions, gaining clarity about their customer’s motivations, and making more money. Further, I believe these stores are owned, run, or staffed by people who are motivated to learn how to do the above themselves.

What I’ve done by rewording this vision statement is taken the consultant out of the picture and described what the market wants. Or rather, what the market might want, pending validation of that market desire/need. Also note that I’ve described the market’s needs/wants in terms of existing needs/wants, not ones that could develop in the future or ones that could develop if the market is led or shaped by thought leadership.

If I was the consultant with the vision statement being re-worked here (I’m not, again this comes from my post opt-in survey), I’d feel humbled by this. Or, if my ego was particularly active that day, I’d feel like you’re calling my baby ugly; I’d feel attacked.

All this is healthy. We need to realize that having a bold vision that we care deeply about is important, but it’s not sufficient. There needs to be at least a small beachhead-like market that cares about our vision, or wants something our vision can provide or enable for them.

Taking ourselves out of the picture and thinking about our vision for impact from the perspective of market need/desire can be humbling, but it’s a pragmatic, necessary part of thinking like a business owner.

So how should our questioner validate this hypothesis?

I’d suggest they create something that fits all of the following criterial:

  1. It’s meant for people who own, run, or work at a Shopify store.
  2. It’s designed for people who are already motivated to learn how to get more insight into their customers motivations and use that insight to make better design decisions.
  3. It makes a bold, unvarnished claim about the connection between #2 on this list and making more money.
  4. It’s tiny. Like 2 pages or less of text, if possible. Or 3 minutes of video or audio. Again, tiny in scope (so you can execute the test quickly and relatively easily).

Then, I’d find 30 people who own, run, or work at a Shopify store, reach out to them directly (email, LinkedIn messaging, or PM in a private community setting), give them this free gift of knowledge, and — critically — ask them for their feedback on it.

What happens next will be a qualitative measurement, not a quantitative, algorithmic one. Judgement calls will have to be made. Risks will have to be weighed. Decisions will have to be made under conditions of reduced but still persistent uncertainty.

But even if you get crickets in response to this live market test, you will have information gained through movement. And you can build on that.

I liken this to getting a bicycle going. At first, only one thing matters: translating those first few pedal strokes into movement in some kind of direction. Once the bicycle is moving, you can make more subtle fine-tunings to its direction. But until that point, as long as you haven’t pointed the bike over a cliff or into a tree, nothing other than getting that first bit of momentum matters.

This, by the way, is what we do in the Specialization Workshop. I’m running that (and the POV workshop) again in October. Sign up if you want support, encouragement, or direction with this live market test thing: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/core-skills-workshops/pmc-csw-specialization/ Early-bird discounts available for those who are decisive at the level of both mind and wallet.

What you are up to — notes from readers

This is a new part of my email list, stolen whole cloth from Exponential View.

I want to share what you’re up to. What are you doing to create impact in the world, for your clients, or for your future self?

New things take a while to get going, so I’ll prime the pump. When folks opt in to my email list, I redirect them to a survey they can fill out if they want. One of the questions I ask: “What’s your vision for impact?” Here are some recent ones I’ve received:

  • “Manufacturers will raise their value by being better prepared for disruption and disaster.”
  • “My expertise stems from experience and pragmatism therefore I can help potential clients in finding technical solutions that optimize for time of delivery and save costs.”
  • “By making tech training more engaging, companies will have the staff to help boost future competitiveness.”

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Keep building, keep taking risks y’all,
-P