I Started From the Bottom…

During the first few years of my business, I found myself (and my business) at the bottom one-fourth of what I like to call The Positioning Pyramid. The Positioning Pyramid is a triangle divided into four quandrants that I use to describe the different levels of business ownership.

You’ve heard the song by hip-hop icon, Drake, right?

The one whose lyrics go, “Started from the bottom, now we’re here. … Started from the bottom, now the whole world is watching”?

No? Yes?

Either way, I think those lyrics capture a truth about entrepreneurship.

During the first few years of my business, I found myself (and my business) at the bottom one-fourth of what I like to call The Positioning Pyramid.

The Positioning Pyramid is a triangle divided into four quandrants that I use to describe the different levels of business ownership.

The bottom one-fourth of the pyramid is cut throat. It is what I call the “Generalist” portion of The Positioning Pyramid.

Most everyone who starts in business starts at the bottom — as a generalist. This means the bottom one-fourth of the pyramid is a crowded place. Generalists are Jacks and Janes of all trades. Tribe members who are also generalists are unbelievably competitive. These generalists offer a wide range of services under their umbrellas of “marketing” or “public relations” or “photographer” or “baker.”

The generalists end up eating the smallest piece of the pie, yet they end up with all of the cavities and indigestion that come with eating an entire baked good.

Above the generalists are the specialists. Specialists have learned to decrease their service or product offerings and they’ve realized their value. They know they don’t have to mimic the services and business models of everyone else and they know better how to make their businesses run. They look for opportunities for exposure and take a few risks to grow their enterprises. I believe a lot of business owners stop here.

Above the specialists are the experts, the level just before the top. The experts are the people who are on their way to dominating their particular industry. They are the people who are learning as much as they can each day to perfect their skillset and grow. They are the people who are finding new opportunities to expose their skillset. They don’t have as much competition as the generalists and specialists, because frankly, many people aren’t willing to make the sacrifices and commitments experts make to become great. Experts shed dead weight. They offer a reduce set of services. They focus in on doing one (or two) things really, really well. They leave a trail of social proof in the form of glowing testimonials and happy customers or clients in their wake. They’re on their way from being great to being extraordinary.

Often, generalists and sometimes, even, the specialists, have not defined their brand, or determined WHO they are and WHO they serve in business. These business owners have not developed their story, or the WHY that describes, specifically, why they are in business. And, they do not know how to share that story with the world — meaning they do not have the tools to effectively share their awesomeness to the people they desperately want to serve. Doing this right — defining your brand, developing your story, and sharing it with the world — gets you at the top of the pyramid.

At the top of the pyramid, I imagine, is a glorious place. It is, quite literally, the difference between promising the world to potential customers only to earn a fraction of your worth while sacrificing your mental peace and personal time and figuring out how to do ONE thing amazingly well and being recognized as a well-paid, well-positioned expert. These people at the top one-fourth of the pyramid don’t have as much competition as the generalists do at the bottom one-forth. These tribe members at the top are Authorities. These Authorities most likely do the same thing as others in their field. The difference is that they have positioned themselves to make it to the top. These folks are well-recognized experts. They’ve blogged, written articles, contributed to or written books, they’ve had multiple media appearances. They’ve figured out their unique way to help other people and add value to the lives of others. These tribe members are indeed well paid and well positioned.

What does an authority look like?

Think about Oprah.

Think about Tyler Perry.

Think about Shonda Rhimes.

Think about T.D. Jakes.

Think about Dave Ramsey or Joyce Meyer.

Think about your primary care doctor or the emergency room physician at your local hospital. Now, think about Dr. Travis Stork, who hosts the daytime medical talk show, The Doctors. Does Dr. Stork really know any more about the body than your local ER doctor? Probably not. The likely difference between Dr. Stork and Dr. Local ER is positioning. The difference is finding one thing to do, and being absolutely phenomenal at doing it. Most importantly, the difference is ensuring your target audience knows it.

Tell me, Tribe Member. How are you positioning yourself?

I’m sharing my stories of positioning on my blog and in my Facebook group, #LiveYourBrand.