Advantages Of Choosing A Narrow Field In Business

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I may be terrible at running a business in the real world but I am very good at business analysis. My knowledge of business economics is excellent. And it's mostly because I worked hard on it. Till I started my business and pooled my financial resources, all my savings were in investments I manage by myself. I ensured that I converted my theoretical knowledge to a practical one. I follow the world economic and financials events like football. Even the bulk of what is my MBA class materials are what I already know.

In my optimistic moments, I see myself as someone who has spent too much time at a driving school and is now moving on to the real roads. That the troubles I'm having are normal and success is just a matter of time. And today, I am in my optimistic moments and have taken up a self-bestowed task of giving you a business advice.

In the business economics world there is what we call absolute advantage and comparative advantage. If you are Usain Bolt then you have an absolute advantage in the 100m and 200m racing business. Why? Because you are the best in the world at it. No one runs faster than you. And that is called having an absolute advantage. Then if you are Nigerian Railway Corporation, you have a comparative advantage. You are very terrible at what you do but everyone is busy going after more juicy businesses than trying to compete with you and you have government legislative help. It's like having a househelp; you can take care of your house/children way better than her yet you still keep her. She has a comparative advantage over you. You would rather spend more time doing revenue generating activities like going to work and hanging out with business partners than competing with your househelp.

Every business or entrepreneur starts with what he's got a comparative advantage in. He starts by making his service or product the most accessible or affordable. He attracts customers who find him their most convenient option. Just like the mallam whose store is opposite your house. Even though his toothpaste costs way more than what Shoprite sells one for, you will not rush out on a Monday morning to get one at Shoprite when the mallam sells one. Shoprite can even do a promo of buy one toothpaste and get one free, and the mallam wouldn't see any decline in his sales of toothpastes. His location makes him the most convenient option for people on his street who suddenly run out of toothpaste. And it's same for all businesses. The same Shoprite sells a lot of things more expensively than Walmart. Since not everyone can delay their purchase till their next US trip or even can afford a US trip, Shoprite keeps having a huge comparative advantage over Walmart. No business starts as the best in the world, they only grow into becoming the best in the world. They, with time and superior efforts, convert their comparative advantage to absolute advantage. If your househelp puts her mind into her work, she would someday become better at taking care of your house than you.

So when you are starting a business, choose a narrow field where you have a big comparative advantage. And aim at building an absolute advantage in that field. That's also my business strategy. I started by entrepreneurial journey in 2006 when I started an NGO, Student Career and Carrier Agency. I went from one secondary school to another setting up career counselling programs for students, especially those in SS2. I spent my life savings then to come up with my unique materials and proposal letters to school principals. Since then I have been an independent CCNA instructor, written FORTRAN program for money, consulted as a Linux trainer, worked as a photographer, started a desktop publishing  business, earned money as a Mathematics private tutor and fixing computer issues. Then I also have more professional skills I acquired working in over 5 different companies. I began my professional job career as a CyberCafe assistant administrator in 2006.

There is clearly a lot that I have a comparative advantage in. I could set up a computer networking training institute and succeed. I could go back to being a professional photographer. I could be a Linux consultant and earn big bucks. I could re-energize my NGO and apply for funding from government and international bodies. But I chose to be an Excel consultant instead. I know that I have the my biggest comparative advantage there. I can more easily go global, creating an absolute advantage there.

When you chose a narrow field and aim to be the best at it, you won't end up building a conglomerate and miss cashing in on all the business fields you have a comparative advantage. But you will end up surviving and flourishing for many generations to come. You will become like those Swiss luxury watch makers and centuries old banks.


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