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Growth  |  3 min read

Go From Generalist to Specialist

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Clate Mask

I get asked for business advice from a lot of entrepreneurs in their first year or two of business. The questions run across a broad spectrum, but many of them can be resolved by effectively answering a question I ask back to them:

What’s your specialty? 

See, once you know what you’re really good at, the right customers find you. That clear knowledge and understanding of your specialty is what makes your marketing magnetic. It’s what makes your offering a real “solution” to your customer’s problems. It’s what brings you joy, satisfaction, and profit.

The problem is, most business owners in their first year or two of business don’t yet know their specialty. So, they take general work of all sorts to keep the lights on. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as the business owner recognizes the process that’s playing out in their business. In other words, as long as you realize you are trying to move from being a generalist to a specialist, as fast as possible, it’s OK to take general work. 

Here’s how the process played out over the years at Infusionsoft:

  • 2002—General technical jobs, from recovering lost data to pulling cable to writing software
  • 2003—Custom software for small businesses
  • 2004—Web-based, semi-custom software for small businesses
  • 2005 to Present—Sales and marketing automation software for small business

That’s a bit of an oversimplification in terms of the timeline, but you get the idea. We were moving from general technical work to a sales and marketing software product for a specific audience. The closer we moved to our specialty, the more fun, rewarding and efficient our business became.

The market rewards the specialist.

SBS Idea of the Day: If you’re in the early stages of your business, discover and declare your specialty, even if that “specialty” is just one step closer to what your ultimate specialty will be. If you’re not in the early stages of your business, ask yourself whether you should be further specializing.


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Infusionsoft is now Keap. That’s weird to write, but it’s also exciting.

In 2001, trying to get Infusionsoft off the ground, there were many times when I wanted to quit. I’ll never forget my wife, after two years of struggling to survive, hugging me and saying, “Keep going.”

Over the last two years, we’ve talked with thousands of small business owners to get a deeper understanding of their unique challenges in today’s market. We learned that it’s harder than ever to succeed in small business. Customers expect more. On-demand is the rule. There’s no shortage of platforms on which to complain. A failed job or two can be damaging to your business.

Keap is our signal to the world—and to ourselves—that it’s time to make it easier to succeed. We’re on a mission to simplify growth for millions of small businesses. Our new name is a nod to the tenacity of the small business owner and encompasses everything we know to be true when it comes to success: keep going, keep serving, keep growing.

Along with a new name, we’ve expanded to two products. Keap, our newest product, is smart client management software that helps service businesses progress leads to satisfied clients. Infusionsoft by Keap is powerful CRM and sales and marketing automation software for advanced business needs.

Both are designed to make it easier than ever for more small businesses to get organized so they can deliver great service and close more business.

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To your success,
Clate Mask
CEO + Co-Founder