Diversify or Focus?

Ever wonder the opinion potential clients have of you?

Not the opinion you want them to have… but the one they actually have.

So we need to look at ourselves as others see us…

Do they see you as a specialist? Or a generalist?

Offering only one service can be limiting. And it can be scary when most of your income is from one client. Either way, there’s a good argument for ‘diversifying your portfolio’.

Many creative businesses offer a wide range of services or products. Why? To keep their options open.

Creative entrepreneurs search for new clients. Why? To be less dependent on their biggest customers.

These things make sense. They reduce business risk. Fine.

But there’s a different way to look at all this…

Mark Twain wrote:

“Behold, the fool saith. “Put not all thine eggs in the one basket”. Which is but a matter of saying, “Scatter your money and your attention”. But the wise man saith, “Put all your eggs in the one basket and – WATCH THAT BASKET.”

What does this mean when you are growing your creative business?

It means there’s a risk of not paying enough attention to those top clients. Because of chasing after new ones.

It means there are risks in having too many offerings. Being good at several things but not great at any one.

When you see a creative business offering a range of services. Do you wonder: Are they REALLY expert at all those things? Or are they ‘Jacks of All Trades and Masters of None’?

Here’s a thought: If you wanted a plumber to fit your new bathroom, would you seek someone who only does plumbing? Or choose one guy who offers plumbing, electrics and building?

Surely that guy can’t be a master of all three? No thanks! I’ll find an expert plumber.

The guy thinks he’s being clever. Widening his net to catch more customers. Sounds smart. But here’s the catch. He gets lots of enquiries, but few sales.

He’s also competing with every plumber, electrician and builder in the area. And each one is better than him at their own trade.

What’s your advice to him? Choose one thing and do it superbly? Team up with experts in other fields? Focus?

There are risks in business everywhere. Risks of being too focused. Risks of being not focused enough. There is no simple solution. No ‘correct’ answer.

The smart thing for us to do is assess ALL these risks. From BOTH perspectives. Then make a calculated decision.

Diversify or focus?

There is no general answer. Because every business is different.

It’s a question entrepreneurs need to ask, at EVERY stage of growth. As competition changes. As customer needs evolve. As opportunities arise.

One of the questions I help creative entrepreneurs to answer is this:

“In my unique business, in a fast-changing world, what’s the best business move to make right now?”