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Don’t be everything – just be awesome

As I’ve been building my business for the past few years, various personal weaknesses have shown up.  Some of them, like my lack of organization, have been corrected using things such as the GTD method.  Other weaknesses, such as my laughably bad graphic design skills,  I’ve consciously decided to leave as weaknesses.  Why?

“I can do anything!”

The easiest way to explain it is to introduce you to Bob.  I met Bob at a meeting last week, and his introduction to the group went something like this:

My name is Bob and I’m a financial planner. I can help you with your taxes, retirement planning, budgeting, estate planning, mortgages, car loans, college savings or anything else you might need.  Just call me!

The problem is that if I need something from that list, I probably only need that one thing.  Suppose I want to talk to someone about retirement planning.  Do I go to a retirement planning expert, or the guy that also happens to do retirement planning?  I go to the expert, of course.

Job hunting?

The same idea applies to job hunting.  If you’re trying to land a job with a company, you need to convince them that you’re the very best person to fill their opening.  If you apply for three different positions at the same company, they’ll quickly see that you’re not much of an expert at any of them, and they’ll fill the opening with someone more suited to that precise position.

Graphics and Flash

Along with weak graphic design skills, I can’t do Flash.  At all.  A few years ago I considered taking the time to learn, but opted not to.  However, projects still come up from time to time that need a Flash element or two.  So why didn’t I learn it?

It’s because I don’t want to be like Bob.  I have a smaller skill set that I specialize in (primarily SEO, WordPress, Social Media) and I focus all of my energy on being the best I can in those areas.  For everything else, I find great people that can serve your needs.  For example:

  • If you need some fancy graphic design, I’ll point you over to the awesome Ali Green.
  • If you need Flash work, I’ll send you to Harrison.
  • Need some copy written?  Talk to Evie.
  • Did your server just crash? Go see Derrick at Human I.T.
  • And the list goes on and on…

However, if you need help making Facebook work better for your company, or need to figure out why your site isn’t ranked well in Google, I’m your guy.  Though my skills aren’t perfect, all of my daily eduction (via Twitter, Google Reader, etc) is focused on being as sharp in those areas as possible.

Don’t get caught in a niche

That being said, be careful.  Five years ago, if I had decided to become a full-on MySpace expert I’d be in trouble today!  You not only need to keep up with the times, but you need to have a wide enough skill set so you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket.  It’s even better if you can make them all work together; for example, I help many clients use WordPress to assist their social media efforts and help improve their SEO.

Do the same thing with your job

Whatever line of work you’re in, you can do the same thing.  Focus in, work hard, and try to become an expert at a facet or two of your industry.

What about you? Have you ever intentionally not learned a new skill in order to stay focused?  Or do you try to learn everything you can?

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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