How should you position yourself in the Director of Operations (DOO) market?
Today we are asking the question, “Should I be a generalist or a specialist in my service area?” Even when you are an employee of a company, you may need to navigate this question.
Some exciting news… we will now be partnering with the Hubspot Podcast Network! I’m very grateful to be sharing space with Hubspot who have core values that overlap ours, and you will be hearing more about them very soon!
A Specialist or a Generalist?
This is something super important to ask yourself when starting a business, and even more important when you are diving into your particular offers.
We have different types of listeners here, both employees and business builders, but what we all have in common is that we are all service providers.
This topic is important to each of us, but if you are creating a business, you are going to need to know this so that you can go one layer deeper and create an appropriate offer.
“Making this distinction [between a specialist or a generalist] is going to help you get clear, avoid scope creep, set and uphold your boundaries… and deliver on your promise in a way that feels really good to you.”
Determining your Scope and Layer of Service
A specialist is a service provider who focuses on one skill set, is taggable within a specific industry, and typically can be linked to a particular system, methodology, technology or a process. You have one focused area where you go deep.
A generalist is a service provider who chooses to maintain a generalized skill set that serves their clients needs. I think of a generalist as a “holistic” service provider. This is someone who brings together different parts of the business.
Both of these options can be practiced at all layers, including the implementer layer, the manager layer, the strategic layer, and the visionary layer.
An example of a specialist at the implementer layer might be someone who sets up and builds out Dubsado or another CRM.
An example of a generalist at the implementer layer would be a virtual assistant or an admin assistant.
A specialist on the strategic layer may be an HR expert who performs organizational design.
A generalist on the strategic layer may be a Director of Operations, someone who has their hand in the whole business, looking at the operational functions of the business. This generalist will be involved in the people, the processes, and the projects and will integrate the operations to execute the business vision.
You have different options, and you can create offers in every single layer. Ask yourself what layer you are in, and create offers for yourself as either a specialist or a generalist. Also, make sure to claim only one title so your audience isn’t confused!
If you are going to be taking the risk of building a business, you want to do what is best for you.
You will need to think about:
Your mission, vision, and values.
You have to start with these. They are the foundnation, and you will do your best when you build a business around these. Does a specialist or generalist best support your mission, vision, and values?
Do you prefer shorter or longer working arrangements?
It is important for you to know what you are getting into. Does your personality work well with the client? How do you like to design your lifestyle when it comes to your work?
Specialists tend to work in shorter containers, while generalists will most often have retainer and recurring roles. This is important to know because if you value stability and don’t like marketing yourself all of the time, you may gravitate towards being a generalist.
What resources do you need?
If you want to be a specialist do you need some additional training, knowledge, education, or certification to help you be a specialist in a certain area?
Many people will join our Director of Operations Certification, and then go on to create offers that go deep in one area. We see a lot of this with our Strategic Mapping Model™, where we teach people how to be strategists, and then they create a business and an offer around that skill.
How does your target audience invest?
Sometimes your avatar is going to prefer to invest in shorter term projects. They may not need your skill on an ongoing basis, but they may need your skill to train or strategize for them.
On the other hand, some businesses will prefer longer contracts because they value productivity and efficiency and want that captive audience to be there. It really does depend on your avatar.
If you are in a particular industry or layer of business, evaluate if they prefer a generalist or a specialist so you can set yourself up for the greatest amount of success in creating your offer.
Take action and reassess.
You will try things, and hopefully you will be open to re-evaluating your approach because
everything changes; the market, your skills, your interests, and market dynamics.
“The people who are most successful in business, change over time, and listen to themselves, the external environment, and what their avatar needs…”
If you are on the path of becoming an upleveled operator, check out our 2-hour event entitled “Test Drive the DOO.” We will be talking about what it looks like to be a DOO, who is right for the DOO role, and what the certification looks like. It will be interactive, and we will be taking your questions.
Weekly Ops Activity
Head on over to the Facebook group, and share with us if you are a generalist or a specialist.
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