Don’t Try to Be All Things to All People

I received an e-mail today from someone in my organization who said that entrepreneurs and business professionals really need help in management, sales, accounting, taxes and many other issues.  So far, so good–I couldn’t agree more!

Then he suggested that our organization would be so much better if we provided that kind of training. Whoa–stop!  Here’s where we part ways.  You see, I’ve heard that many times over the years.  It tends to come from groups that are struggling, and they’re looking for something to provide all the answers to a myriad of problems.  This sounds really good and I understand where the frustration is coming from–unfortunately, it just doesn’t work.

Many years ago as a business consultant, I saw a lot of my clients bounce around from one product or service to another.  They were chasing projects down rabbit trails because someone said they should be doing this element or that element of the business.  They didn’t specialize.  They tried to be all things to all people.  They ended up being good at nothing at all.

When it comes to being a truly great organization, I believe that a  jack-of-all-trades is a master of none.   Instead, I believe that you should focus on your organization’s core competencies.   Do what you are good at, and do it better than anyone else.

There are many, many companies that are MUCH better at teaching business people about management, sales, taxes, etc.  My networking organization is not an expert in taxes or business management.  Organizations such as iLearningGlobal provide more content from more experts than we ever could.  We shouldn’t even try to be “the” expert in these areas.  In fact, we are not and never will be the leading organization on sales training.  Organizations such as Brian Tracy University are much better in this field than we are.  If we try to do that–we change our core business model and lose our focus.

Don’t try to be all things to all people.  Do what you are best at and do it better than anyone else in the world.  My company, BNI, is myopic.  We do one thing and, based on results (thousands of groups in dozens of countries), we do it better than anyone else.  We help people build their business through a structured referral networking program.  We are the biggest and the best at what we do, and we don’t try to be the best at other things.

Great companies know what business they are in, and they focus on improving that business every day.

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8 thoughts on “Don’t Try to Be All Things to All People

  1. Great points Ivan and I would like to take it one step further. While the organization has goals it is often the failure to recognize (and capitalize upon) the competencies of the individuals that comprise the organization that leads to the wasted energy you speak of here. Ideally the organization establishes it’s goals then identifies and retains the people that have the competencies to bring those goals to fruition and make keep them sustainable.

  2. Two friends just emailed me with a couple comments that I thought would be great to add to the above article:

    Don Osborne said: “Be one thing to all people.”

    And Mike Macedonio said: “BNI has been a great model for an organization staying on mission.”

    Thanks for both of your comments!

  3. Many years ago I heard how powerful it is to attract your ideal clients and repel the rest.

    I think being well known for doing a few things excellent allows you to attract your ideal clients. Too many people try to be everything to everyone and it ends up diluting their message and their brand.

    Great message to remember.

    Melanie Benson Strick
    CEO, Success Connections

  4. Ivan,
    Boy is this true. Every day as I network I encounter people that lack a crucial “elevator pitch” and USP…they’re chock full of excitement about doing everything.

    No one is good at everything. But limitations can be freeing. I like that Don Osborne quote.

    Really, we need to focus on what we’re the best at–and why.

    Everything else is just an opportunity to refer someone that’s much, much more savvy in the other disciplines.
    – Jessie Fitzgerald

  5. How true! Do what you are good at, continue to perfect your specalty. However,people know if they need a plumber, painter, electrican, CPA, real estate attorney, or whatever, I’m the one to call. The “go-to” guy. I’m not an expert at any of these trades or professions, but I can make a recomendation, make a phone call and fill out a referral slip quicker than anyone.

  6. Jack of all trades, master of none! Great article. Its so common, particularly in small business – this is often why they can struggle – as they try and stay on top of things, they forget what they are actually good at!

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