Business Sluttery: Something for Everyone

A common mistake small business owners make is trying to offer something to everyone.

something for everyone - business slutteryIt’s a dangerous place to be when you are a solopreneur or a small business owner.

You can’t be everything to everyone in life, and the same applies in business.

Creating a product and/or service mix that appeals to everyone is, without doubt, business sluttery.

You may get returns with this approach but it is short sighted. I can almost guarantee that you will be either working like a dog to make everyone happy, or receive a lot of complaints, and perhaps both.

It’s important to understand the limitations of your business and it’s resources and turn that into a positive.

Here are somethings to think about and a few tips.

1. Everyone is not a target market

You cannot appeal to everyone. It’s impossible.

Tailoring your communication and marketing to appeal to everyone is a non-starter.

You end up talking to no one.

It’s important to get clear on the type of clients you want to have.

Even better, think of one person you know, or have already worked with and use that person to define your target market.

As much as we’d like to think that we are one of a kind, I can assure you that they didn’t break the mould when it came to consumer behaviour.

2. Get clear on your business model

If you are a small business you can’t run your business model like WalMart – you simply don’t have the resources or the time.

You need to get clear on whether you offer something that is budget or luxury or somewhere in the middle.

Now, that “somewhere in the middle” is actually where many of us are and yes, it’s a HUGE bracket.

But, like everything it’s on a spectrum. Decide which end of the scale you lean towards.

And whatever you do, do not try to incorporate the whole spectrum into your business.

It won’t work.

When was the last time you went to a luxury resort and found backpackers and campers sharing the same facilities as the hotel guests?

It doesn’t happen.

3. Celebrate being focused and selective

Too many small business owners feel that by being focused and selective on their target audience that they are alienating potential clients.

The truth is, the more focused you are, and the more selective you are the greater the returns.

You become an expert, an authority, desirable and trustworthy – the perfect mix.

What then happens is that your communication is clear and your message starts getting through to those with the money and desire to pay you.

At the end of the day you need to decide if you want to be the jack of all trades (and a master of none) or you want to reign your niche as the queen (or king) of something special.

Take a long hard look at your business, make sure you aren’t committing business sluttery by trying to offer something to everyone!

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16 Responses to Business Sluttery: Something for Everyone

  1. Ameena, you are a breath of fresh air.

    We’ve been kicking this point around, trying to compress our services into a few distinct “pieces” so we can focus what we do a little better, and I’ll definitely be bringing up the notion of “business sluttery” in tomorrow’s meeting!

    • Thanks Sarah 🙂

      Scaling down what you do really can help focus on the direction you want to take!

      Would love to know how the concept of business sluttery was received in the meeting!!!

  2. Just today I was turned down for some business that I never should have bid for anyway – it is outside my focus AND my specialty. That job would have taken me so much more time than it was worth, and I only considered it because it was someone I’d worked with before.

    It’s so easy to get drawn to bright and shiny money, but I can only get to where I want if I follow the path to it without tons of frustrating detours!

    • Well done Tammy!

      It is so hard to turn something down – money can be distracting but in the long run it’s better for you to concentrate of what you do best.

      I know I learnt the hard way – taking on projects just because I needed/wanted the cash..

  3. Ameena,
    this is such great advice. Do you think it’s peoples natural inclination to try to target everyone in the beginning? I know i used to think it was better to target a larger crowd of people rather than just focusing on my target market. it made it so hard to come up with content because i felt like i couldn’t really focus on anyone’s particular problems or issues..

    Another side effect of targeting a wider audience is that you attract the wrong type of people, tire kickers and people mildly interested in what you have to offer. Or at least that is my experience…

    Thanks Ameena, always love reading your no nonsense attitude.. ps isn’t the weather lovely now???

    • Many are afraid of focusing in on a select group of people. The perception is that they are limiting their selling potential when in fact it’s the opposite.

      However, in order to know who to talk to you need to be clear on what YOU are doing and WHO you want to work with.

      And yes, to attracting all the wrong people when you are unfocused. I know I realised I wasn’t focused enough when I started attracting people who would never pay me, and probably didn’t even need my services.

      Thank you again for your amazing support … yes, I love printemps en Provence 🙂

  4. “In niches there are riches.” Something one of my business professors always preached to me (I trust him, he used to own a large bottling company that distributed to 8 states and drives a 700series BMW). He always impressed upon me that differentiation is one of the big keys to success and that trying to appeal to everyone would create a watered down, less-than-focused and desired product/service. This advice has helped me to set my gym apart from the others in my area in terms of membership and profitability. Great advice Ameena!

  5. It’s so hard writing sales copy for clients when they aren’t pre-sold on what you’re talking about here Ameena. (love the way ‘Ameena’ sounds by the way!)

    One of the most important lessons I ever learned on this challenge is, “A business that is for everyone, is for no one.” Even Wal-Mart isn’t for everyone which is how premium priced stores like Whole Foods and Nordstroms can not only survive but thrive here in America.

    The majority bias of your list of people who’ve demonstrated that they love what you’re putting down by voting with their wallets and buying stuff from you is what should drive the concept for anything you write – sales or content.

    Stephen King talks about in his book, “On Writing” the idea of writing to one single person. For him, this is his wife Tabatha – who he deems to be his perfect prospect. And this is a guy who could be said to have a WIDE market – yet he narrows everything down the question of, “Would this push Tabatha’s buttons?”

    Thank you Ameena for sharing your light in the form of your art and your uniquely direct framing (Business Sluttery) of this oh-so important mistake that small businesses make.

    • Thanks Lewis! Your example of wal-mart vs. Nordstrom is spot on!
      Plus I do feel that it’s a challenge working with clients who are too afraid to focus in on their target audience because they are worried about excluding the masses.

  6. Hi Ameena- I have been meaning to.. and … wanting to read this article for sometime now. Finally got around to it at just the right time. I needed to hear this. As you know, I have narrowed down the sector of our industry that I would like to practice in. But a niggle remained in my gut. It has to be narrowed down even further. Something I have to give some time getting into.
    As they say in the classics: ” what is that sound I hear in the distance drawing nearer?” Is it the little voice of fear …? suddenly I recognize it as being just that. Ouch!
    BTW – I don’t consider your straight talking as blunt. Rather as necessary.

    • Thanks Rose, amazing how we can confuse fear to be meaning something else completely. Good luck with the narrowing down – it can be a harrowing process!

      Glad you like my straight up talk – if you want results you can’t be beating around the bush!

  7. Hi Ameena, I just read your article about business sluttery, and it gave me huge insight. Now I’m asking myself if this is what I’m doing. maybe because I’ve never owned a business before and the fear that I might not be good enough is what I have to look at as well, while I’m defining who I am exactly!

    • Hi Pat, thanks for your comment – it’s always a good idea to ask yourself HOW this will help your business if you do X, Y and Z. In addition if you aren’t getting the right bites from potential clients and you are spending a lot of time talking to them without the conversion then something’s gotta change!
      Good luck!

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