Specialization School is a Sequence of 3 Workshops, followed by one open-ended coaching program
A 12-week process for learning more about your market so you can connect and build trust with them more effectively. This workshop is recommended only if you finish the previous workshop thinking that you need deeper insight into your target market. If you don't need this, you can skip on ahead to the Basic Lead Generation workshop.
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Advanced Lead Generation, Thought Leadership, and Intellectual Property (ongoing coaching)
This open-ended coaching program is open to graduates of the Decision Making and Basic Lead Generation workshops (or newcomers with mastery of those skills).
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Who is Specialization School For?
Generalist self-employed software developers face a revenue ceiling at around $200k/year. You can use several optimization and scaling strategies to move past that ceiling:
- Working harder
- Increasing your rate arbitrarily until you get pushback
- Building a team so you can win larger, more profitable projects
There is another way, though, to move past that $200k revenue ceiling. It is the path of developing deeper, more valuable expertise. This path unlocks the following possibilities:
- Pricing based on value delivered rather than hours worked
- Cultivating expertise that increases your profitability
- Creating products, like books or digital training products, that both produce revenue while you sleep and generate leads for your services
Specialization School is for self-employed software developers who want to develop deeper, more valuable expertise by specializing.
The most successful Specialization School students share the following attributes:
- You get excited about seeing your business improve while also having the patience to execute on multi-year growth plans that involve some delayed gratification
- You are generating at least $90k USD (or your local equivalent if not in the USA) in gross revenue
- You have one day per week you can spend working on this program and if client "emergencies" interfere with this day you are able to make it up on your own time within a few days
- You are willing to operate outside your comfort zone in order to discover new growth options for your business
Perhaps the most important ingredient of success for specialists is a desire to use deeper, more valuable expertise (rather than flexibility, "work ethic", or hustle) to drive your business's success.
If that describes you and you've already figured out how to specialize in a way that gets leads flowing into your inbox and clients happily paying a premium rate to work with you, then 1) you probably don't need Specialization School 2) drop me a line because I'd love to feature your success story by interviewing you on my podcast, The Consulting Pipeline Podcast. 🙂
But if you're still running a generalist software development business and you're wondering how to specialize in a low-risk, sustainable way, Specialization School might just be the experience you need.
A Unique Program
- I've worked with hundreds of self-employed software developers on this critical transition from generalist --> specialist.
- I've seen almost every permutation of background, personality type, motivation, and level of expertise.
- I've developed a market research protocol that provides high quality evidence without the cost of engaging an expensive market research firm.
- Helping devs specialize in a way that benefits their business has been the primary focus of my business for over 2 years now.
There are others (David C. Baker & Blair Enns)who work with larger, more mature professional services businesses on positioning and specialization. There are others who touch on the issue of specialization inside a more broad coaching or training program (Jonathan Stark, Kai Davis, & uGurus Uacademy are three examples). But there just isn't anybody else who is as uniquely qualified to help you make this particular transition, and whose business focuses 100% on helping generalists make the right decision about how to specialize.
Before we move on... and just to be crystal clear... the consultants and programs I mentioned above are world class, high quality offerings offered by colleagues of mine that I deeply respect. I'm not denigrating these offerings at all. In fact, if you apply to Specialization School and we both agree it's not the right fit for your needs, I'll probably refer you to one of the consultants or programs above. I mention them simply to point out the unique place Specialization School occupies in the larger world of programs designed to help you improve your business. There are broad programs that help you with multiple issues, one of which is positioning or specialization. And then there is Specialization School, which is laser focused on helping you with one issue only: how to specialize with minimum risk and maximum reward.
Specialization School itself is a new offering, but I've been working with self-employed software developers on specializing for years now. Here's what my clients have to say about this work: https://philipmorganconsulting.com/what-my-clients-say/
Specialization School FAQ
What’s the structure of Specialization School? How does it work?
- This is a 12-week online program
- Class size is capped at 5 participants to make it easy for introverts to participate in group sessions and to make sure nobody "falls between the cracks" due to an overly large class size
- The program takes you through a highly structured progression from theory, to personal inventory, to a rapid market market feasibility study, to a deep market research process, and finally to analyzing the evidence you have gathered and organizing a personalized plan for specializing in a way that you find enjoyable and your business finds highly profitable.
- Classes are held online using Zoom, a pretty great videoconferencing software that's pretty easy to use and pretty reliable.
What kind of time commitment is required?
- Be able to spend about 1 day per week working on Specialization School activities
- Have enough flexibility in your schedule to set up ~4 30-minute appointments per week with research candidates. You'll need to schedule phone or Skype calls with these people based on their availability, so you'll need some flexibility in your schedule.
What will my ROI be?
That depends on a number of factors, including your level of engagement with the not-easy work I'll be asking you to do.
The best source of information I have about the long term payoff of specialization is:
- David C. Baker has reviewed the financial performance of something like 1,000 professional services firms and found that specialized firms starts at $160/hr while unspecialized firms charge $120 to $160/hr.
- My own personal experience shows that specialists can earn an effective hourly rate of $300/hr after about 2 years of career development, and closer to $1,000/hr when they are more established and have a more robust hybrid offering of products and services. This does not always translate to a yearly revenue of $300/hr x 2000 hours = $600k because:
- Even full time consultants billing hourly are unlikely to bill that many hours in a year
- Most of the specialists I know have moved away from hourly billing and instead price their work using fixed prices or productized services, making calculating an exact hourly rate somewhat difficult
- Many specialists opt to work less than full time because they'd rather spend time with family, hobbies, or deepening their own expertise.
3 months seems like a short time period for making such a critical business decision.
For several years now I've run the Positioning Accelerator Program (PAP), a self-paced mentoring group for devs who are specializing. In that time, I've noticed that the fastest-moving participants complete the process of researching and deciding how to specialize their business in 3 months. Others choose to take longer or move more slowly, but again the fastest moving participants need about 3 months to reach the point of feeling confident in their decision.
I've done 3 things to help replicate that velocity for you:
- Assembled every accelerant I've discovered and refined in years of mentoring PAP participants and made it part of Specialization School.
- Carefully structured the timeline of market research activities to eliminate dead time and un-necessary lead time.
- Offloaded slow-t0-learn and low value tasks (list-building and running the email outreach campaign to recruit research candidates are two examples) to my team (me and a research assistant) so you don't have to waste time learning stuff that is valuable but not nearly as valuable as the other outcomes of Specialization School.
In short, the "Gantt Chart"of activities for Specialization School is based on a road-tested approach derived from PAP, and the sum total of those activities will present you with a body of evidence that you can use to make a great decision about how to specialize your business.
3 months is aggressive, but it's do-able. And given that it's do-able in 3 months, there's no reason to make it take any longer than that.