Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in the Kellogg Innovation Network, or “KIN” Global summit, where I met some really brilliant people doing innovative work in all types of industries. KIN was a chance for us all to put our heads together and see if we couldn’t come up with some big answers to the big questions which corporations, non-profits, and governments face today. While I can’t say we solved all the world’s problems, we did talk about an important concept: the idea that a successful growing company does one or two things really well, instead of trying to do a multitude of different things that it’s not really capable of.
This is generally accepted as a truism, because as most of us can attest from our experiences either working for or alongside small businesses, it does seem to be the rule. Businesses that devote themselves to the mastery of any given field do better than those whose “repertoires” seem to expand by the day. But that got me thinking: quality and variety really don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
In running my own boutique firm, I’ve worked constantly towards a balance between drawing upon the different talents our brokers offer, while still being able to confidently say that we are providing the best service in our industry. I’ve discovered through my own 40 years of experience that, although achieving it is somewhat elusive, our business can in fact do a variety of things and still do them exceptionally.
Our firm has become this combination of varied-yet-specialized only through years of cultivating talents while also reaching out to trusted experts outside our own office. Becoming the David in an industry of Goliath companies didn’t happen just by chance.
Knowing your employees’ backgrounds and interests can lead you to discover some valuable in-house expertise, even in an office of as few as eight people. There are brokers working for Howard Ecker + Company who specialize in helping clients in various industries and cultures, thanks to their own personal interest in these groups.
But with all this variety, how can a firm uphold its reputation of expertise? We are able to do so because we retain a very human and personal element in all of our working relationships that is hard to replicate in a more bureaucratic corporate setting. Not only do we know what we’re doing, but we’re passionate about it too.
Indeed, in running a growing business it can feel like you’re faced with a choice between doing quality, specialized work or many different types of work.
I say: choose both.