BLOGNAME: LOUDER THAN WORDSAn informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur
|Defining Yourself By What You Are Not|
By Paul Tomori
Monday, May 17, 2010 at 18:41:15 (EDT)
Our office is in a very busy corridor on an upper floor of a downtown office building. We share that floor with lawyers, accountants, consultants and... the passport office. By far, the passports do a much brisker business than anyone else here (hey, government mandates are good for business... just not ours necessarily). Anyway, for a while we (and the other offices) were getting a lot of walk-in traffic consisting of people who didn't exercise their literary rights to read the signs, so we decided to address the problem by posting... more signs! "Enhanced" signs per se. Of course, it actually doesn't work very well (we are better known for our computer problem-solving skills I guess!). The lawyer around the corner posted an "enhanced" sign and so did we.
However, we noticed two slightly different approaches in the "enhanced" signs to getting the attention of Mr. and Mrs. Wandering Joe and Jill Public.
We defined ourselves by who we are...
The lawyer defined himself by who he isn't...
I wonder which way works best.
As humans, I think we tend to define ourselves, our philosophy, our businesses by positives. Our slogan might be "We develop web sites and web-based software applications". It would be strange if we announced "We don't dig ditches".
Either way, it still kind of makes sense in life and in business (at least in the exercise of clarifying one's own personal convictions and pursuits) to make some negative distinctions. Addition by subtraction I think it is called.
It reminds me of having a "not to do list".
In our case, as a kind of unspoken positioning statement, we decided a long time ago that "We don't do print design". Many customers asked for it and let's face it, print layouts require a whole different skill set and expertise that do not necessarily mesh with web development. Yes, there are overlaps (i.e. two-dimensional artistic rendering), but you know, there are similarities between fixing motorcycles and fixing cars too, but generally, you get an expertise in one OR the other, not both. In fact, when it comes to fixing cars, especially in modern times, you further hone your expertise by fixing just Fords... or just Hondas. To really excel, you get that kind of focus on your objectives. A jack of all trades doesn't always serve well when you get into really advanced technology or sophisticated problem-solving.
Well, we may NOT be the passport office, and we may not be a lot of things, but we also know who we are and knowing oneself from both the positive and negative angle is a great place to start if you want to succeed in business.
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