Why Hyper-Specialization is Critical to Business Today
In this special edition interview, we sat down with Sir Steven Wilkinson to discuss the importance of focus, hyper-specialization, and forward-thinking in business today. Steven is the Founder and Managing Director of Good and Prosper, a member of the Board of Experts for the Birthing Giants Fellowship Program, and a founding member of the Small Giants Community.
His business, Good and Prosper, provides practical wisdom for leading and living well to founders and leaders of human-scale businesses. They do this through leadership consulting and advisory work, writing, courses, and connecting clients with their extensive network.
Steven has more than thirty years of experience in the business and finance industry, and it took him a few years to find where exactly he fit in that world. “I have an aptitude for storytelling and understanding that numbers tell stories, and that’s been a useful way of building a career,” he said. Steven views himself as an emissary between the world of small- to medium-sized businesses and finance. He acts as a translator and interpreter between those two very different worlds.
We spoke with Steven about what he believes is vital to the success of a business today. This is what he had to say:
Business is all about forward-thinking—and it’s necessary for survival.
Steven said, “We’ve moved away from a supply economy to a demand economy, and the companies that didn’t figure that out… and just assumed whatever they were producing was going to get sold, just got wiped out.” They were not planning for their next evolution.
He believes the key to entrepreneurial success in today’s environment is focus. “We are in a hyper-specialized world in which if you don’t know which problem you’re solving and for who exactly, and if you can’t articulate it in the language of the [buyers], you don’t have a…chance,” he said.
“So the things that really good businesses are doing that distinguish them, are being relentlessly focused on finding their customer type—and they’re being hyper-specific about the problem they’re solving.”
A business in that position can charge premium prices and become a standout in the marketplace because they’re going deep rather than broad. The problem is that most businesses don’t have the guts to do it.
It’s no secret that the way buyers buy has changed and continues to change. Business owners have to adapt their sales and marketing strategies to match buyer behavior, or risk becoming irrelevant.
A large part of the sales process used to be explaining what you do and how you do it. But today, buyers already know all of that by the time you reach them.
The sales funnel has changed drastically from what it has ever been before. “You don’t need salespeople tipping prospects in the top of the funnel,” said Steven. “What you do need is a much higher level of qualifications to underpin whatever expertise has brought them into the funnel in the first place. And then help them on their journey to become a customer.”
Becoming the trusted source for information about your products (and products like it) is more important than ever. And creating content that establishes your expertise is the best way to ensure that potential customers are learning from and building a relationship with you versus your competitors.
Humans crave human connection, and it’s true in business as much as it is in life. So, whether you’re building a relationship with your customer or simply making a transaction, buyers like to build some level of trust, and at the very least, familiarity.
The simplest way to do this is to share information about who you are and what you do. Let your customers get to know you by putting bios on your website, writing blogs, or sending out newsletters with a personal touch.
Steven is a storyteller at heart, and he posts about one essay a week on his website. His readers connect with him through his essays, and he even said, “I will have people who talk to me as if they know me…and that shows me the power of content in building relationships…. I strongly recommend every business do that because you don’t know who you’re building a relationship with while you’re sleeping.”
Another relationship Steven is happy to have built is one with his WBN virtual assistant, Isabel.
“[Hiring Isabel] was, without a doubt, the very best decision I’ve ever made. Isabel has transformed my productivity and my life and she is one of the most delightful human beings I’ve ever come across,” he said..”Life has become so much easier since Isabel came into our lives.”
At WBN, it’s our mission to help people realize their dreams—that includes our VAs and our clients. In Steven’s past experience with secretaries, he struggled to communicate his lateral thoughts in linear, understandable terms. But he’s been pleasantly surprised at how little information Isabel needs to get her job done well.
“She has massively expanded my understanding of what someone who is highly qualified in the work of an executive assistant is capable of doing. Hugely expanded,” he said. “She’s very good at extracting just enough information to just get on with stuff.”
Watch the full conversation about what it takes to succeed in business here.