As you may (or may not) have known, I moved to Portland, Oregon last month. I’m loving it a LOT and have been busy getting settled. Blog post on its weirdness forthcoming. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share some insights into some of the recent changes in direction I’ve been working on, business-wise.
Some businesses are geared towards products, and some businesses are geared towards services. Some can do both – for example, your salon or barber may cut your hair (service) but then suggest you buy their fancy-pants hair gel (product).
I spent most of my career in the services industry, so it probably is not surprising that my services have been very successful – I know that work very, very well. But I haven’t felt any of my product ventures have done very well.
In August, I’ll be giving products another try. It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I’ll be reviving an old brand that you used to see around here on my personal site. Think more about community.
I keep hearing that if you’re scared shitless, that’s a good sign. In that case, this launch is going to be a knockout.
What are you working on that scares you?
I’m not a big believer in anything that starts with “because of the economy” (nor anything that ends in “because of David Hasselhof.” What’s that about, anyway?), but I definitely feel like the marketplace that I operate in has changed dramatically in the past 5 years.
One thing I’ve been considering is the idea of an industry mindset versus a niche mindset. An industry is tourism and hospitality, for example. A niche is luxury hotels, for example.
I think you can be successful focusing on an industry, but I think you can be more successful focusing on a niche. You hear this all the time with the pervasive marketing advice “what’s your niche,” but I still think lots of people think in terms of industry, not niche. Or at least I was.
With that being said, I’ll be dropping a lot of my travel industry focused services. Yes, I’ll still be running my network of travel websites, and yes, I’ll still be advising travel companies, but I’ll be spending my time worrying about my RIGHT customers, regardless of their industry.
Are you serving your Right Customers?
I’ve been watching a lot of my friends go through a Portland class called Heartspark (you can take it online too). One interesting thing about the class is that it helps you to identify your success patterns – the work that you do that you excel in and that is truly the work you are meant to be doing.
While I haven’t taken the class, I’ve been reflecting on that concept and actually remembered back to my days in Amsterdam, where I remember something that constantly came up in the workplace: people loved to work for me.
Why? Because I was an excellent orchestrator.
I knew how to find the right people, the right resources, and bring them together in the perfect way that worked for everybody. The reflection made me realise a huge mistake I’ve made in my business: I’ve been trying to do it all.
I had an assistant for a couple of years, but I didn’t replace her, and I should have, immediately. Right now I’m working on building my “dream team” again. It’s been hard, because finding good people is hard, and I want the pieces of the puzzle to fit just right. (If you have magazine advertising experience, email me ASAP).
What’s your success pattern?
Writing still holds a special place in my heart – it was the work that led me to the place I am today, and while I write far less than when I began as a freelancer, I still write.
I want to write more. More of the important things.
That’s such a difficult balance. I’ve been kicking around the idea of a manifesto, but not sure what to include. I have no desire to write another traditionally-print book (been there, done that – Historic Walking Guides Edinburgh, published in 2009). And I’ve actually hired out rockstar travel writer Margo Millure to produce some things for me that I think she can do better.
So, what to write? I’m not sure. I’ll be spending some more time here, for sure. Stay tuned.
Are you spending time on the things that are really important?
(Better question: do you even know what’s important?)
Would love to hear about what you’re working on in the comments. I will be reporting back in next week with a dispatch about Portland(ia). Consider yourself warned.