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The Headless Ghost Movie Poster

You won’t hear this guy complaining about his niche.

You will hear entrepreneurial leaders and other talking heads (Seth Godin, can you hear me?) telling us to find our niche. As I was watching a Twitter feed during lunch on the day of the manhunt for the (alleged) Boston Marathon bomber, it struck me how unimportant nearly all the voices (tweets) were, at least to me. They were all just a bunch of noise.

Why is finding your niche so important?  It is easy to look out into the world and easily become overwhelmed by the flood of information.  You have a product, a service, or an idea that you want to share with the world, but you will more than likely be drowned out, unless you start with your niche.  Take the case of the Twitter posts I mentioned above: nobody cares about your comments unless you have active followers.  Finding your niche is the best way to be heard through all the noise.

Don’t worry about being listed on the Amazon best seller’s list or getting a call for an interview by Wired, Inc., or Fast Company.  Focus on your niche first.  I have learned this lesson over the years. When I started this company, I had grand hopes and dreams for this company to become a large player in the ERP space, providing implementation services across the full spectrum of Oracle E-Business Suite modules. I never put much effort into that bigger plan for a variety of reasons, and frankly I am glad that I did not. Instead, I focused on being really good and getting better at just one area: Human Capital Management (a/k/a HRMS). Although I read this more than a decade ago and can’t remember who said it, this is the age of the specialist.

The reason the niche matters is because people who care about what you sell or say will be the ones listening. It is much easier get the attention of 200 people than 200,000,000 people. If the message is important or interesting enough, those 200 will make sure it spreads to a larger audience.  The important thing is to find your niche, decide if there is growth, and then get in and build.

The book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is next on my reading list, which addresses platform creation.  The platform is one of the concepts Seth Godin proposes in his book Linchpin, another book that I consider recommended reading. I will offer my thoughts after I’ve read it.

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As a general rule, I spend no time on Twitter. I will usually visit when I want to see how a big new event trends, especially from people on the ground.  Aside from that, I am only there when I post updates to this blog.

March 2013 - The Best Month Ever

March had 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. How could it not have been the best month ever?

For the independent consultant, marketing does not come naturally for us, unless perhaps you are a marketing consultant.  This is because we are technicians by nature, using the definition of technician as described in The E-Myth Revisited, the brilliant book by Michael Gerber.  Our websites and blogs are one of the most visible ways in which we can market ourselves and showcase our knowledge.  Running a website and blog is one thing; getting traffic to our sites is another.

When we relaunched this site in August 2012, we began experimenting with different methods to increase traffic to this site. March…it was the best month ever.  Really! Why was March the best month ever? Three things: [click to continue…]

Wine and Olive Tapas

You can wine them and dine them, but it is going to cost you.

For the small consulting firm and independent consultants, building strong customer loyalty can make or break your business. Weak customer loyalty, at the very least, will make the struggle to keep your sales pipeline full a lot more difficult.  Strong customer loyalty will provide dividends for years to come.  Some of the common approaches to loyalty building are:

  • Wine and dine (or lunch and brunch) your clients
  • Provide outstanding service
  • Be professional

Spoiling your clients with good meals and drinks is fun for all involved, but I do not recommend this as a general rule. There are too many ways for this to go wrong: company policy violations (improper gifts), setting a precedent for future dealings, liability concerns, and the risk of being the next big thing on YouTube.  Reserve this for post-go live celebrations, if you must.  Providing outstanding service is an obvious choice and professionalism speaks for itself, though the monetary value of either is difficult to quantify.

I have found one method that is not as obvious, but is absolutely effective and profitable: adopt your client’s vision, mission, and culture.  There are three steps to doing it right, which I term the RDI MethodReconnaissance, Disguise, and Integration.

Step 1: Reconnaissance:  [click to continue…]

Lyon, France Train Station

Somewhere in Lyon, France, a company named Matrice owns the domain I want.

Matrice Consulting just celebrated our ten-year anniversary in August. Looking back, I found that one of the most difficult steps of starting a new company is creating a good name.  I formed my company name after watching a trailer for a movie; I merged my first and last names, added ‘Consulting’ to describe what we do, and voilà!  We had a name and an identity.  I have assisted in naming a couple of other companies and the decision process is difficult, and even more so when you consider Internet presence, social media, and domain names.  In this modern age, you have to consider all the following:

  • Is your name being used by another company, or is it similar enough to cause confusion? [click to continue…]
Unknown American Mountain

Your remote worker is somewhere in this picture.

An interesting article from Harvard Business Review arrived in my email this morning that I want to share:

Why Remote Workers Are More (Yes, More) Engaged.

Two points that stand out to me are:

  • Absence makes people try harder to connect
  • Leaders of virtual teams make better use of tools

I agree with Mr. Edinger for the most part, but one point that he omits is the perspective of the remote worker.  [click to continue…]