Eclectic Curiosity

“Generalists Starve”


Posted on May 30th, 2005, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

Mark Nickeson over at ForwardMarkets offers 13 points of advice for solopreneurs – everything from tracking billable hours and networking to defining requirements and communicating with candor. Good stuff. However, #3 on the list:

3. Write down what it is you do. Exactly. Precisely. To succeed as a Solopreneur you need a focus, and a niche. You may feel like a generalist, but the world wants specialists. Generalists starve.

Ouch! Actually, I get what Mark means here and, as someone with a marketing background, I know very well the value of honing in on a niche. Jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities and most science and technology projects all tend to generate more value as they get more niche and the details become more exclusively handled. If you’re the only one that can do something that others will pay money for, after all, you win.

But generalists don’t necessarily starve – at least no more than specialists who have lost their relevance, whose jobs have been commoditized and moved overseas, or who have innovated themselves into a corner starve. Generalists occupy a niche. And generalism is quickly emerging as an essential niche for leaders to solicit exactly because there are now so many specialties (and permutations of combined specialties) out there to grasp. Generalists ultimately make specialists more productive and more valuable. So, I’d embellish Mark’s point #5 by adding: Find generalists for your network, for they are the ones who can connect you to new people, opportunities and ideas that, from your groove, you probably aren’t even aware of. If you’re a solopreneur find time in your busy schedule to take a generalist to lunch.





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