If you run a service based business or are planning to set one up at some point, then one of the key things you’re going to need to ask yourself is whether or not you want to position yourself as a specialist or a generalist.
Whilst there’s certainly no right or wrong because every business is unique and has different goals, it’s one of those things you should try to establish right at the beginning because you’ll need to be able to know how to market yourself effectively and you can only do this once you know what your positioning will be.
The thing will the specialist versus generalist argument is that people really have strong opinions on each side and as well meaning as they may be when trying to advise you on which path to take, this can really lead to you making a decision that’s not quite right for you, so in this post we’re going to share with you some pros and cons for each option, so that you can make the best decision for you.
- Less competition: One of the main reasons that people often give when deciding whether or not to specialize in a specific area is that they’re afraid of limiting themselves and think they’ll have less chances to find clients, but the opposite is actually true and when you specialize, then you narrow yourself down to clients who are looking for your specific skills and who will happily pay more for your experience.
- More money: Specialists in general will always have more earning potential because of the time, money and energy they’ve invested into their professional development, so if you have bigger financial goals and want to earn what you feel you’re worth, then positioning yourself as a specialist instead of a generalist is definitely going to be more advantageous financially for you.
- Better clients: When it comes to clients, whilst it’s certainly not the case that all of them who are looking for specialists will be paying well, and those looking for generalists don’t have as much of an interest in hiring people based on value versus price, this is unfortunately often the case. The good clients who know what your services are truly worth are typically looking for people who are highly specialized in a certain area – for example, if you focus on a specialized part of the medical industry or you’re a copywriter who knows all there is to know about an electroplater.
- More variety: Of course, being a generalist certainly has its good points, namely that if you’re someone who gets bored easily by working on the same type of stuff day after day, then being a generalist could be the right choice for you because there’s so much variety in the types of things you’ll be working on. This can be especially true for those who are in creative fields such as writing or design.
- Easier to niche down later: Sometimes picking a niche to specialize in doesn’t come naturally to everyone and it takes a bit of time to find your true passion and your zone of genius, so if you’re not quite sure yet then working as a generalist for a while could be a good strategy to help you get experience in different areas and find what you want to focus on eventually.