In everyday life, we may refer to someone as a “Jack-of-all-trades,” to highlight their wide-ranging skills. However, all too often we forget the original ending of that phrase: namely, “master-of-none.” When we try to be all things to all people, we are setting ourselves up for underachievement from the outset.
Consider a fairly typical scenario in the oil and gas industry. You run a supply company that is doing well, with new orders coming in as fast as you can process them. At the same time, though, problems start arising. Maybe it’s a staffing concern, or an occupational health and safety issue. Whatever it is, you know that there is a problem, but you aren’t sure of how to start fixing it. Some will try and ignore it and hope it goes away. Others may spend time, energy, and money reinventing the wheel, coming up with internal procedures for dealing with it.
Instead, I would like to suggest looking outside your own operations. This can be accomplished simply by observing how other companies approach the problem, and adopting the best practices. You may also brainstorm solutions at industry trade shows or get-togethers. Alternatively, and perhaps the most straightforward approach of all, you can forge strategic partnerships. This may be accomplished through hiring a consultant, setting up a referral arrangement with another firm, or even a merger with or acquisition of another company that has expertise in that area. The structure by which your firm achieves the delegation of non-essential business activities is not important. What matters is finding others whom you trust and respect to complement your operations.
Knowing your firm’s core competencies–those areas where you truly excel–means knowing what value you bring to your clients and customers. If we are truly honest with our clients (and indeed, ourselves), we would recognize not just those areas where we excel, but also those where we may fall short. This is not a threat to your business, but an opportunity; by leveraging strategic relationships, your firm can focus on those things you do well, while allowing your business partners to handle the rest. This helps build confidence in your firm, as it indicates to your clients that any services you provide will be of the highest caliber. Remember, even the best general practioner isn’t expected to be a top surgeon besides.
Allow me to present another example, this time from my work in the financial industry. The genesis of our firm, Boomer Financial, may well mirror your own experiences. Boomer Financial is the coming together of individual financial advisors with the same goals in mind: fewer clients with more attention given to each, a consistent financial planning system for individuals and businesses, and a focus on client needs over sales. While the goals are the same, we each come from starkly different backgrounds, with differing areas of expertise. With individuals focusing on employee benefits, insurance planning, and investments, each member of the team can truly specialize. Our firm began, in essence, as a strategic partnership; a merger of individual, sole proprietors with varied skillsets.
Furthermore, our approach to our profession reflects this concept as well: we act as strategic partners to our clients. Through our work protecting, growing, and optimizing clients’ finances, we afford them the ability to focus on what is important to them, both personally and professionally.
With this successful formula, we have recently expanded our capabilities further with an outside strategic partnership with DLC Mortgages & More, Ltd. Through this alliance, we provide financial advisory services to their clients. In return, we have a trusted partner that can provide our clients with lending, tax, and payroll services. This mutually beneficial arrangement was accomplished without the need for added cost or training of current personnel. More importantly, all our clients are now better served.
Ultimately, the best thing for your clients, and your business, is to always strive to be the best at what you do, and build relationships with others for doing everything else. By making your firm the expert in its niche, and creating a network of experts for everything else you will form a wall around your clients that no competitor will be able to breach.
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