It’s a crowded marketplace online these days (3 strategies)

The upheaval of the past couple of years has brought A LOT of people into the online business world.

There are folks who were forced online due to layoffs or business shutdowns. Those who have had to change their schedules and lifestyle to accommodate for taking care of kids and family. Folks who simply had ‘enough’ of unsatisfactory workplaces and weren’t willing to stick around. Or who had always dreamed of doing their own thing and thought ‘now is the time to do what I really want to do.’

Having worked online now for over 20 years I LOVE seeing how many more folks have come into our online world. It’s a great place to be and there is loads of opportunity in the online space.

And, let’s be real… more folks online means more competition.

If you’ve been online for a while now you may have noticed that it’s getting more crowded. There are more people out there now who ‘do what you do’ – be it as a coach, trainer, OBM, VA or otherwise.

And it’s natural to be wondering “How do I stand out?” or” Why would someone choose to work with me when they have so many other options?”

Here’s 3 strategies to consider when you want to stand out and succeed in a crowded marketplace.

1) Go Deep

I do a trends call for my Certified OBM Association each year and one of the 2022 trends we talked about was micro-niching. Being a generalist isn’t enough in a crowded marketplace, as you are positioning yourself to be the same as everyone else with the same title as you. Look for ways to go deep (focusing on the few) vs. wide (focusing on the many.)

For example, if you position yourself as a business coach you are instantly competing with every other business coach out there. If you position yourself as a business coach who helps founders prepare their business for sale within 3 to 5 years, you’ve instantly positioned yourself to work with a very specific type of client. You can get known for doing this specific thing and can go deep in your expertise there.

2) Leverage your Genius 

If our goal is to go deep (as shared above) it also brings up an opportunity for us to leverage our genius. It’s soooo easy to build a business around doing ‘all the things’ – especially when we are good at doing many things! Not only does this put us in the mix of all the other generalist “I can do anything you need me to do for you” folks – it is a recipe for stress, overwhelm and potentially burn out.

It is more important than ever to align your business with your strengths – your genius – in a crowded marketplace. Your genius may be the thing that has you stand out from the crowd, while building a business that is energizing and enjoyable.

3) Stay the Course!

Imagine you want to grow a fruit tree. First you plant the seed. Then you spend time tending to the seed – giving it what it needs to grow. Everyday that you tend to the seed it grows and over time you will have a beautiful tree.

I see too many folks in the online space messing up their seeds. They plant a seed and 3 months later get tempted by another type of tree that they think would be easier to grow, so they abandon their seed and plant another one. Only to be distracted yet again by what they were promised would be a bigger tree, planting yet another seed and starting all over yet again…

In many ways this is the most important strategy – give your seed time to grow! Commit to tending it daily through your actions. Give folks time to get to know you for what you do. Give yourself time to really dig in and go deep. Every time you change your mind you are essentially starting your tree over again from scratch. My recommendation is to always give something at least a year (maybe two) in order to really see what is possible and to allow your success to really bear fruit (pun intended 😉

To be clear, there is still TONNES of opportunity out there for all of us. Crowded doesn’t have to mean we can’t create the success we are looking for, it just means we need to be more purposeful and strategic.

I’m curious – do you feel like the marketplace has become more crowded? If so, which of these strategies feels most relevant for you? Or what are you doing to navigate these crowded waters?

Perfectionism

I find perfectionism to be an interesting thing.

On one hand it’s about excellence – we want to do great work. We want to create amazing results for our clients. We want to bring our best to any situation. These are all good things to strive for in business.

But perfectionism can also be the thing that stops us and is a very common form of resistance or self-sabotage.

In my experience, when I’m stuck in perfectionism it’s often masking a fear of making a mistake.

“What if I mess up and they think less of me?” “What if I let them down?” “What if I’m not as smart/talented/awesome as they think I am?”

These are the kind of fears that can trigger shame and make us feel like we aren’t good enough. Ooof.

If we are someone who gets caught up and stuck in perfectionism, what do we do about it?

I don’t think it’s as easy as just saying “well there is no such thing as perfect, so just do it anyways” or “done is better than perfect”. Those things are true, but they aren’t helpful when deep down inside we are terrified of making a mistake and letting someone down.

What if instead, we worked on becoming better at making mistakes?

One of the things we talk about in our Certified OBM community is ‘the big mistake’. Meaning that all of us at some time will make a big mistake – it’s inevitable. (Mine was deleting an ENTIRE client website that wasn’t backed up anywhere – eep!)

The most important thing about making a mistake is how we respond to it.

  • Do we take ownership of the mistake and look to fix it or make it right?
  • Or do we run, hide, or try to blame someone or something else for the situation.

When I deleted that client website, I took ownership of rebuilding the entire thing. And even though the client was slightly annoyed it had happened, in the end it was totally fine because I fixed it.

I can tell you from experience on both sides of the coin – as both client & service provider – that ownership is what really matters. 99% of the time your clients will be fine with any mistakes that happen, so long as you take ownership of fixing it and looking to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

In other words, if you become good at responding to mistakes – taking ownership – then perfectionism no longer has to be the goal. It no longer has to be the measuring stick you use to decide whether or not you are doing a good job (and we all know, when we measure ourselves to perfection we will never measure up.)

Instead, the goal becomes “am I someone who is willing to take ownership for any mistakes?” Even when it sucks and feels uncomfortable. Even if a part of you does want to run and hide. (I thought I was going to barf when I had to tell my client about deleting that website!)

And strangely enough, as we take ownership and become better at responding to mistakes… perfectionism may no longer have such a strong hold over us. We know mistakes will happen and we know that we will take ownership of it and take care of it. <– That is what really matters.

Here’s to making mistakes! And being OK with it. 😉

Making money from your zone of genius

Once you’ve landed on what your zone of genius work is, the next step is to decide how ‘translate’ it into your business offerings. What is the best business model for you to leverage your zone of genius and make a great income?

One of the biggest mistakes that folks make here is thinking that this needs to be a BIG change.

That they need to scrap everything they’ve already created in their zone of excellence, and start from scratch. Create a totally different business with totally different offerings.

I don’t recommend this for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s ALOT of work to start your business over from scratch! Think back to the early days of your current business, and how much effort it took to get things going. To find new clients. Create new marketing strategies. To onboard new clients. Ooof, so much work.
  2. It’s not necessary. For most of the clients I work with their zone of genius is a natural expansion of the zone of excellence work that they have already been doing. It is usually simple tweak to their current business model – not a huge switch into something totally different.

Instead of having to start over from scratch, they get to keep ‘riding the wave’ of what has already been created which is a much quicker, smoother and profitable transition!

This is what we are going to be working on together in my new 4-week Genius Accelerator program for folks who want to make the shift from zone of excellence into zone of genius. In the Accelerator we are going to work on two things:

  1. To help you identify and really OWN your zone of genius (even if you have no clue what it is at the moment…)
  2. To create a powerful offer that aligns with your zone of genius work (more fun for you; way more value for your clients)

This is a small group program that I’m limiting to 12 folks max so I get to support everyone directly – if you are interested send me an email and I will send over the details.