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Generalist Vs. Specialist

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Devampre

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If there is a thread I missed in my search I apologize. I saw this touched on a few places both on this forum and elsewhere.

A lot of people online preach that when starting a business (such as a web design agency, smma, consulting, etc) it is better to start as a specialist. Ideally picking an industry, a niche and in many instances a sub-niche or niche within a niche.

I have one friend/mentor of which feels strongly about approaching as a generalist. He believes that this helps with market testing and more opportunity. He believes that specialists fail when there is no longer a demand for their expertise. Which I can entertain/understand, but I believe most specialists would then pivot to a new demand.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this topic. I am a pretty open minded person (which is a curse and a blessing :rofl:)
 

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Tossek

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Oh, I like this topic.

I think you have to be both. To find your niche, you have to specialize for your specific group of customer. Driving towards a more managing way of work, you will tend at some point to general topics.
 

S.Y.

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I am more in the camp of generalists. Or more specifically the T shape individual or the polymaths.

And that for few reasons:

1. They say innovation is about connecting things in a new way. And that requires breadth not depth

2. The role of entrepreneurs in my opinion is to put resources together to solve a problem. Meaning for the most part understanding a broad set of areas and then hiring experts to get shit done.

3. Technology is taking more and more specialized tasks.

This is not to say that specialist cannot be succesful. They can absolutely be.

But more often that not, people that we define as succesful are generalists: Musk, Bezos, Jobs, Branson, Warren Buffet, Jamie Fox, Frances Hesselbein, Gates, Will Smith, Charlie Munger, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Darwin...

I can go on and on...

There is a great book on that subject "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World"
 

apollo_web

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Great topic. I also am a generalist because I see so many possibilities in this world.

But I also see the value in being totally specialized, honing the skill and leaning into it.

Doing one thing great vs lots of things ok? I would rather have choice, diversification, experience as a generalist to refer to, and multiple avenues over being reliant on a one legged stool.
 

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