How To Grow A Business Built Around Your Own Specialized Skills

Expert Panel® Forbes Councils Member

Entrepreneurs who build businesses around their own very specific skill sets often succeed at gaining clients and customers right off the bat thanks to their specialized knowledge and abilities. However, even though you may excel at delivering the solutions your target audience needs, when it’s time to scale your business, it’s going to require more than your solo efforts.

Below, members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss some ways business owners can successfully expand a company that is built around their own unique and specialized skills.

Members pictured from left to right.
Members pictured from left to right.

1. Look At The Bigger Picture

Business owners who want to grow must first clarify their picture of success by defining an overarching vision for what the company will be in, say, two to three years, then outlining goals to get there. Break those goals into specific, actionable steps. Assign owners and reshape the goals as you share your vision with team members (and new hires). Finally, grant people the autonomy they need to bring it to life. – Nikita Allen, Growmetix

2. Answer These Critical Questions

Before a business owner can grow their business, they must answer the following questions: Who are their ideal clients? How big is the market they are focusing on? What does their SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis look like? Are they clear about the value they are delivering? What does their net promoter score say about them? How are they differentiating from others? What do they need to do to scale? What are the constraints and risks? What resources do they need? What ROI do they need to see? Where do they want to be in five or 10 years? – Dennis Foo, Pu Xin ASPIRA Advisory Limited – Shanghai | Hong Kong

3. Teach Others Your Specialized Skill

I grew my business by going from delivering a specialized skill to teaching the specialized skill. Now, I teach other professionals how to become career coaches. I’ve been approached by others to license my training program, which is another way to grow. And I’ve considered selling my training program to an organization in need of this specific course. – Cara Heilmann, International Association of Career Coaches

4. Add More Skills To The Mix

The best way for a company that has been built around a specific skill set to grow is to add other, complementary skills that are upstream or downstream from the current business. Start working with a consultant and look for patterns among your peers in your industry to see what has worked and what their investment was to realize an acceptable return. – Ben Levitan, Cedalion Partners

5. Distill Your Instincts Into Principles And Practices

Founders are often thought to have a “secret sauce” that can’t be replicated, but that’s not true. Founders usually act on instincts that guide their decisions and trajectory. Those instincts can be distilled into principles and practices, which can then be codified and taught to others. It takes time, but it’s the only thing that works. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

6. Systemize Your Process

Break down each specialized offer into workflow activities to productize your knowledge and allow for delegation. No one will ever replace you in the business. Still, with a proper system or framework in place, it will be easier to streamline activities to build and train a team to scale the operations without jeopardizing the customer experience or reputation. – Sara Phelan, Evalu8-Evolve Business Coaching

7. Create A Proprietary Replication Of Your Approach

Typically, with a highly specialized skill set, there is also next-level, best-practice excellence that others could be taught. Through documenting and creating a proprietary replication of the approach, the expertise is transformed into a deliverable that can expand the business’ capacity while also creating residual income through certifications, licensing and continuing education. – Sherre DeMao, BizGrowth Inc

8. Create A Value Chain With Complementary Skills

All specialized skills are complementary to other skills. By creating a robust value chain, you can persuade existing buyers to maintain their relationship with you by offering complementary options they would typically go elsewhere for, and you can also entice new customers. Create a research and development function that scans the market and feeds into strategic planning. Thereafter, you can take actions to build, buy or partner. – Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory

9. Upskill Yourself, Or Hire Someone With The Right Skills

First, identify what type of growth you are seeking to achieve. Once that’s identified, determine what skills you are missing and need to learn to ensure success. If you aren’t willing to upskill yourself, seek to hire someone external who embodies the necessary skills you need to scale and grow. – Joshua Miller, Joshua Miller Executive Coaching

10. See If Current Offerings Have Growth Potential

Ask yourself what share of your addressable market you’ve captured before you look to expand with new service offerings. Often, entrepreneurs spread themselves too thin in their constant quest for growth. Businesses often want to add products and services when their current offerings have tons of growth potential. – Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital

11. Partner With Complementary Organizations

If the specific skill can be automated or trained, scalability is possible through technology and franchising or licensing. If the business is built around a persona that cannot be replicated, additional products or services can contribute to its growth. Otherwise, strategic partnerships with organizations that have complementary offerings can help take the business to the next level. – Csaba Toth, ICQ Global

12. Shift Your Mindset Toward Building Capacity

To grow a business, the owner must shift their mindset toward building capacity. This can be achieved by training others to perform the job with equal precision, quality and consistency. Upskilling others would free the owner to begin working “on the business” rather than “in the business.” When we say “yes” to something, we say “no” to something else. Business owners must choose wisely. – Stacy Sufka, Gladegy Consulting, LLC

13. Delegate, Segment And Systemize

There are three ways I recommend expanding a business in this situation: 1. Delegate non-core activities to others. When the owner has specialized skills, they must focus most of their energy on those skills to grow and expand. 2. Segment the needed skills and split them into basic and advanced categories. Someone else can be trained to deliver in the basic areas, while the owner focuses on advanced ones. 3. Systemize it and deliver it online like clockwork. – Chuen Chuen Yeo, ACESENCE Agile Leadership Coaching and Training Pte. Ltd.

14. Introduce Partners Into Your Organization

Introducing partners into your organization allows it to expand service offerings while maintaining the integrity of your brand. Expansion into either global markets or new products should retain the integrity of the brand identity of your organization while complementing your growth with the development of partnerships to enhance your products. – Reena Khullar Sharma, Agilis Executive Consulting