I’ve been reading the following article “Fireproof you job” and recommend it as a good read. The article focuses on what employees can do but many of the strategies can be also be implemented by businesses.
Take for example the item Increase your value - Keep on top of advances in your field and expand your expertise beyond your core area. In the IT field there is simply so much that needs to be kept up with, sadly that still needs to be done. However, I think that it is good idea to try specialize in one area. You should try and pick one that would be of most benefit and exposure to customers rather than simply technically challenging. Maybe something along the lines of mobility, either getting phone to sync with data or enabling simpler remote access, whatever it is make sure it is highly visible to the client. Most of the technical tools are already present but you need to position yourself as the ‘expert’ in the field. Pick an area that will have most impact for you client and then learn everything you can about that, then make sure you use this as your method of attracting business.
Secondly, many IT people do not have a broad enough range of skills outside their core IT knowledge. Your clients employ you to solve technical issues which they have little knowledge about so how can you communicate more with them if all you understand is IT? Are there other consulting opportunities available with clients if you had skills in other areas? The IT service business is a pretty crowded place. Ask any IT service business what they do and the answer will usually be along the lines of “we provide quality solutions to client’s IT needs”. Boring! Now imagine if you gave the following answer instead “we save our clients $10,000 a year on their IT costs”. Not only are you going to have prospects attention you are going to make them come one more step down the process with you by asking “How?”.
Pure technical skills no longer cut it in the IT business. Why? Google my friends, Google. Given enough time you can find the answer to just about any technical question on Google. So now what makes you so special? What makes you command the fees your do? Even if you invest some time and money on improving your abilities through sales training, business development and accounting they are all adding value to yourself and your business. The common cry these days is that you need to become a ‘trusted business advisor’ but you can’t become a ‘business advisor’ by simply knowing only the technical side. This is why is so important these days to develop skills outside any core IT knowledge you have. In many cases it won’t be nearly as much fun or excitement as IT but that is all part of growing, some pain is always involved.
In the coming months those that take action and follow a strategy are going to be those that survive and prosper when times improve. Almost anyone can provide IT solutions these days. So what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? What are you doing to prove to your clients that you are worth your fee? Take the advice employees are getting and implement it in your business or otherwise you will find yourself looking for work.