Imagine that you are having a house built for you. The electrical contractor approaches you at the beginning of the project and says, "So…. what voltage are you thinking for this house? A lot of my clients recently have been going with 88 volts because they like the sound of that number. Oh, and what about the frequency of the alternating current? Got any inspiration for that? Or maybe DC would better represent your rugged yet sophisticated Edisonian individualism?"
This never happens because there is massive benefit to not having to think about what voltage to use in your house.
Likewise, I think there is massive benefit to my market if specialization is a normal, well-understood pathway from having a good business to having a freaking GREAT business. Yes, you have to think about your decision to specialize -- it requires that you think, care, and take a small risk. But it doesn't need to be this huge, existential crisis that everyone has to improvise their way through, sweating bullets the whole time.
My work for the past few years has been guided and impelled by the idea that specialization could be a normal and well-understood part of the lifecycle of indie consulting businesses -- that it could be so well-understood and so normal that it's essentially commoditized.
This work won't ever really end, but I have in place some of the most important parts of the infrastructure that I intend to build to help commoditize the specialization decision for indie consultants:
- Free, useful web resources: /start-here/#solutions-for-generalists (probably won't ever be 100% "done", but there's a useful-enough corpus of information there)
- A book that's priced for broad accessibility: http://thepositioningmanual.com
- An asynchronous course that provides more support than the book can: in progress
- A synchronous workshop that provides even more support than the course can: https://indieexperts.io/workshops/specialization-workshop/
- And for folks who need a fully customized solution or need an outside expert perspective, there's coaching and consulting: /consulting-and-coaching/
Over the past ~1.5 months I think I've adequately summarized the main topics in my new book, The Positioning Manual for Indie Consultants..
Lots of people really love the book, a few have written me with helpful criticism and said it's not for them, and some have certainly given it a read and said nothing. This seems alright to me; if the book has avoided the lukewarm middle way that attempts to please everyone but deeply serves no one, then I'm happy.
You probably know by now if this book is likely to be useful to you or not. If so, it's available at http://thepositioningmanual.com. If not, you'll be relieved to hear me start talking less about it here.
Here is my daily email list where I cowpath my way around various questions in hopes of getting more clarity about and ultimately commoditizing the following topics:
- Cultivating a powerful point of view
- Using small-scale research to serve your market
- Generating new opportunity that is better than the existing opportunity you have
- Brand-building for indie consultants
Cowpathing is the first stage of what I might call an ideation pipeline:
This recent piece from Craigmod has got me thinking more about the idea of incorporating "seasons" or "sprints" into the structure of my ideation pipeline: https://craigmod.com/essays/popup_newsletters/
Anyway, I need to finish building that course, so I'm going to take a few weeks break from emailing you daily. Maybe some grass will grow up in new areas of the pasture while I'm away.
My sense is that when I return, I'll be thinking and writing about brand-building for indie consultants. Interestingly, this describes the destination of a journey that begins with specialization. Am I applying the pincer move to my area of interest?
As always, you can downgrade to an articles-only version of this email list (that's the middle stage in the pipeline above) if the cowpathing wasn't really doing it for you. The articles are good! There's a link in the Subscription Management footer of every email where you can do this.
I hate having to take a break from writing daily emails because the thing I most enjoy is waking my ass up at the buttcrack of dawn, sitting down in my writin' and thankin chair, cutting new trail, and hopefully helping others do the same to the long-term benefit of their business.
I do have a coaching slot open if you want support cutting new trail with your business. Coaching has value for those who want a bespoke or higher-risk or weirder specialization than my commoditized guidance can help you create.
A Fall 2020 TEI cohort seems likely to form, so please let me know if you might be interested in joining a TEI cohort in October 2020.
About the time the positioning/specialization course is done, I'll be recruiting beta customers. Keep an eye out for that if you're interested in that kind of support with your specialization decision making.
Thanks to all of you, and see you in some as-yet-unknown number of weeks.