Look around at every profession and trade and note the trend to specialise. If you own a Citroen are you going to go a mechanic who promotes as “All mechanical repairs; all cars, any model”? The answer is obvious. You will seek out the Citroen mechanic and chances are, you will stick with them for the life of the car. Indeed, if you get good service, you will probably recommend the mechanic to your friends and thus create a virtuous cycle for you and the service provider.

In a world which continues to niche itself into smaller and smaller sub sets of the greater market (thanks to the Google and broadband) the generalist service will struggle, particularly as technology and off-shoring continue to commoditise and consolidate previously profitable areas.

Think of it this way: if what you offer can be obtained from anyone, you are competing against everyone. You won’t rank.

Take the time to look through any professional service such as law firms or accounting firms and you will soon identify which firms are successful in terms of Google ranking.

Most bookkeeping service businesses are generalists. Let’s look at a mythical character – Leslie – who runs The Café Bookkeeper. Leslie started life owning a café with her boyfriend but found the hours punishing, so sold up and retrained as a Bookkeeper, did her time working for a few friends in the hospitality sector but, again, came face to face with long hours and unproductive time moving between the premises of her clientele.

Leslie has been transitioning her local, non-virtual bookkeeping business into a lean, efficient and highly profitable virtual bookkeeping service.

Leslie recognized a gap in the industry where owners needed help and had already cut her teeth on the financial management of a hospitality business. She also learned some hard lessons when she transitioned to the bookkeeping business: her biggest challenge in the beginning was pricing her work and that’s where she made the biggest mistakes. She also had to learn how to choose the right clients.

All her clients came from people she knew and by word of mouth and established relationships within the industry community. Not all were ‘ideal’ clients.

Become a category authority

Leslie is now focusing on upgrading her business further as the ‘category authority’ – not just built on referrals. She is focusing on building her virtual delivery system by equipping her clients with appropriate systems to enable her to work virtually and focus on marketing.

Why not focus on being expert in an industry category and this be one of a few experts, or, better still, the only professional clients can obtain that service or specialised knowledge from?

Being better than the incumbents is tough. They will fight for their territory. But the rewards of being a leader in a specialised niche in a too-crowded market are manifold:

  • higher fees recognising your special skills and knowledge
  • better work you get satisfaction from doing
  • productivity gains from being able to manage work that systems can be built around
  • clients who seek you out based on your niche service
  • greater prosperity from a sustainable and scalable business model.

Repositioning pays: change the song-sheet about what you do to ‘Specialist in looking after a hospitality business’ books.Graphic Cafe Espresso