My wife and I wake on most mornings at six am and visit our favourite coffee shop, as do many other people. Over the past three years, some of these people have become our friends.
One new friend is a very experienced business person, a former franchise owner, a lawyer who now specialises in the mediation of high-value disputes. As a business novice finding his feet and learning every day, my friend's insights and conversations are invaluable. We walk and talk; anyone who has worked with me knows how much I enjoy a good walk, and the movement enhances the conversation.
Here are some of my learnings from our conversations;
Pick a niche, avoid being broad and be deeper than others with your expertise.
Solving problems is good business; when you are known for your niche, people contact you, and you shape how to solve the problem. When working in your sweet spot, your heart sings.
Selling can be complex; when you are one of several options, you respond to a brief, and sometimes you dilute or compromise your expertise to meet it. It can be a time-consuming exercise and confuse people about your genuine expertise. You know when this happens as you feel internally contorted and things take longer to do than expected.
Many good businesses can be small, with one or a few people working within them. You can keep your overheads low and avoid the financial commitment of salaries, premises and other not so small incidentals. It also permits you to say no to things that may contort you, as you don't have a machine to feed.
Adjacent opportunities. As you build your reputation by delivering to clients based on your expertise, these clients will likely approach you with more problems adjacent to your expertise. It is an opportunity to grow your services if you believe your heart will sing doing this. My business began with technology reviews, and strategy creation, evolved into digital technology initiatives (workshops and mentoring) and is now actively involved in working with CXOs to develop a cyber strategy and tactics. All of these excite me.
Many think about the prospect of going out alone; let me tell you, it can be lonely, and having someone experienced to talk with casually is energising. Further, their wisdom can help greatly with your decision making.