Maybe in Slidell I’ll find my joy

—🎶🎶🎶—I don’t want you anymoreCause you took my joyI don’t want you anymoreYou took my joyYou took my joyI want it backYou took my joyI want it backI’m gonna go to west Memphis and look for my joyGo to west Memphis and look for my joyMaybe in west Memphis I’ll find my joyMaybe in west Memphis I’ll find my joyI’m gonna go to Slidell and look for my joyGo to Slidell and look for my joyMaybe in Slidell I’ll find my joyMaybe in Slidell I’ll find my joy—🎶🎶🎶—That’s part of Lucinda Williams’ song, “Joy”, from her Grammy-winning Gold-selling album “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”.Finding the global maximum on this curve for your business may require some iterative experimentation:ImageMaybe in Slidell you’ll “find your joy”. In other words, you may have to try several different approaches to specializing in order to find the one that is a great combination of your interest and skills and your clients needs.Is it possible to figure this out without months or years of blind experimentation?I’m glad you asked, because I do have some methods for shortcutting the blind experimentation.Specialization Hack # 6: The List-Building Stress TestI credit David C. Baker for the genesis of this idea. I’m pretty sure somewhere down the line I heard him say that if you can’t buy a list of contacts that match your desired specialization, it probably isn’t viable.My modification of this idea tweaks it for the solo developer or small shop as follows: if you can’t build a list of prospects for a potential specialization, it probably isn’t viable (unless you have pre-existing access or can use networking, inbound marketing, or paid advertising to gain access). And further, if you’re trying to choose between multiple potential specializations, then building a list of 50 to 100 prospects for each potential target market will tell you a lot about how easy or difficult it would be to develop new business in that target market.Does this hack make things easier?Well… compared to eating a whole bag of Cheetos while sitting in a kiddy pool in your back yard, no. It does not make things easier than that.But compared to spending 6, 12, or more months pursing a specialization that’s a bad fit, spending a day or two building a list the old fashioned way (sifting through LinkedIn profiles), it’s dramatically easier! :)I’ve got a few more hacks coming your way, but if you are still feeling hangry to learn more about this stuff, check out the rebooted Consulting Pipeline Podcast at to you soon,-P