Greetings from Iowa. The RV is parked just outside of Winnebago headquarters where we are taking part in what RVers call a “rally.” People from all over the country (about 1,000 rigs are expected) come together to exchange ideas and learn from others’ experiences … kinda like this newsletter.
So my last conversation about the potential disruption created by BizEquity’s alliance with TD Bank – all while a big chunk of the profession is mobilizing about credentials (and before that, standards) – caused quite a ruckus. My most common response to people who emailed me was not to denigrate BizEquity, their reports, or the clients who buy them. Rather, put yourself in the client’s shoes, figure out what they really want/need, and compete on that basis.
On to this week. There is a lot of disruption going on in our industry – from Accounting/BV firm mergers to big data valuation solutions to estate tax valuation services. Now is the time to either leave or dig your heels in. One way of doing the latter is by specializing in a niche and being so damn good at it that you can’t be ignored. But it’s hard to do that if you try to be everything to everyone. Why doesn’t our profession mobilize on a subject like this?
And if you’re new to the blog, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
I normally use this space to point out something new that I found. This time, I want to say that this week marks the 3-year anniversary of this newsletter. So …
Thank you for allowing me into your practice in whatever way you deem useful.
Thank you for your calls, your notes, your comments, and your suggestions.
Thank you for letting me offer value to your world in the ways I know how.
If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know I often write about specializing in a practice area or industry niche. But rather than being a hard ass about it, let’s just say I believe you need to give niching a fair shot if you have more of a generalist-type practice.
I’ve known, and coached, practitioners who struggle to get the attention of prospects. Most often it’s because the practitioner has no concrete area of expertise. And if a prospect doesn’t believe you can help them, they won’t hire you.
When I discuss niching with them, though, they pull back … like a turtle receding into its shell. Based on my conversations with many practitioners, here is a composite of the three most common reasons why they don’t niche … and why it’s time to get over them.
Fear #1 – I will lose opportunity
Many practitioners rightly believe that if they niche, they will lose opportunity. Yes, you read that correctly — I said: “rightly believe.”
Because when you pick a niche, 99% of the world will ignore you. But who cares. Because the 1% you go after will take notice. And you will have their full, captivated attention.
You might lose some opportunity in terms of the width of potential engagements if you believe anyone and everyone will hire you. But you will gain an extraordinary amount of opportunity in the niche you end up choosing because so few people choose to niche. So there will be less competition.
Fear #2 – I don’t know which niche to pick
Practitioners ask themselves, “How do I know the right niche to choose? I don’t want to commit myself, change my entire business model, and later find out I made a mistake.”
I get it … sort of. Finding the perfect fit can take time. But if you’ve been in this business for any length of time and have participated in a variety of projects, you should know the kind of work you like doing and the clients you enjoy serving.
Second, there’s no need to change your entire business model. When you first test your new market for fit, only niche your marketing. Just because your marketing says you do X doesn’t mean you can’t do Y if the opportunity presents itself.
Fear #3 – I will get bored doing the same kind of work
Practitioners are scared that niching will put an end to the variety of their valuation projects and their practices will become boring and monotonous.
The truth is, if you have a niche, you’ll go super deep into it and end up learning everything there is to know about it. So what you give up in width, you gain in depth. This gives you an incredible amount of capability! Think about a practitioner who specializes in veterinary practices and can do a business valuation for any purpose in that niche.
Also, think about the tremendous impact your work can have on/for the clients in your niche. Because you will know the niche better than anyone else, you will bring more value to the table than anyone else.
When I started doing this work in the mid-1990s, the entire field of BV was considered a specialty; niching within BV wasn’t a thing. Times are changing … circumstances dictate that we change.
I am re-reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and I came across this quote about fear: People with a low tolerance for risk, whose behavior is guided by fear, have a low propensity for success.
In real life
Several of my friends and colleagues believe I should branch out to accountants and attorneys since what I coach my BVFLS clients on is applicable to most professional service providers. In fact, it is. But I would be so uncomfortable pretending to know what is going on in the accounting and law worlds. It wouldn’t be easy money, and it would take a lot of time to get up to speed … time that would be better spent going narrower and deeper in the BVFLS world.
There are BVFLS professionals who specialize in a niche and are successful. One might argue they are successful because they have a niche. You know them. So you know it can be done.
Reading that can help
A past newsletter: 20 questions that will help you find your practice niche.
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