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

Philip Morgan


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://indieexperts.io/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