When PerfectHQ was a startup, we specialized in one thing, Custom Icon Design. Year after year we would slowly bring on new services like web design, application development, marketing, user interface design, and branding. As any business owner would assume, providing more services is a good thing right? Not as much as you would think… As we expanded our services, our customer base also grew, but there was one problem, we were no longer experts. Our focus was no longer on our specialty and we became generalists. The clients we would begin to attract didn’t have the same appreciation for the craft as the ones that came to us when we specialized. When the company was founded, its purpose was to be the very best at one thing and double down on providing that service to as many people as we could.
In recent years we pivoted back to being in touch with our craft. We provide an ecosystem of services that surround one thing, bringing delight to everyday life. We do this through designing user interfaces. Think about it, every digital product has an interface. Some interfaces use our voice and others use a screen. No matter what, all interfaces have an experience that needs to be crafted. Our customers come to us for the attention to detail we give to our craft. Today we are specialists. Because of this, we are experiencing many more opportunities than we could have imagined.
How can you become a specialist? Here are three tips.
1) Know your customer.
- Make a list and take names. Intimately understand who your customers are, what they are trying to do in specific areas of their life and what problems they are experiencing.
- As you understand this, you can then move to the next step.
2) Audit your strengths and weaknesses.
- Whether you are a one-person shop or a multi-person organization, conduct a SWOT Analysis.
- On a sheet of paper or word document create four quadrants and label the first box in the top left “Strengths”, the box on the top right “Weaknesses”, the lower left box “Opportunities” and the last box “Threats”.
- Go through each box and ask your self “what do we as a brand do really well? what are our strengths individually and collectively?” Repeat the same step for each box until It is complete.
3) Focus on what makes your craft valuable from end to end.
- As tempting as it can often be, be extremely slow to add a new service. If you are experiencing a dip in business, make sure you understand why. It may not always be a lack of demand for a specific service. Sometimes it’s due to a competitor better understanding how to position the same craft in a way that is valuable for your customer.
- When you focus on your craft, you are constantly improving. You are not only thinking of ways to become better, but you are also thinking of ways to continue to provide so much value that your customer wouldn’t think of going somewhere else.
With the growing support for design lead businesses in the tech community, being a specialist is even more valuable. Almost every design agency can do a little bit of everything, but very few can provide a strong workforce or service in one area that not only leads to success but positions you as THE expert.