“Do what you do best. Delegate the rest.” That phrase is often heard around businesses, big and small. It sounds so simple, but it’s a driving force behind the concept of core competencies. And big businesses aren’t the only ones that benefit from identifying their core competencies. Professional photographers can create more sustainable businesses if they identify and leverage their own core competencies.
So, what’s a “core competency?”
A unique ability a company has that can’t be easily imitated. Core competencies give a company one or more competitive advantages, in creating and delivering value to their customers. Remember, a core competency is not a product or service.
The term was originally coined by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad and published in their book, Competing for the Future. They challenged business leaders to view their organizations as a “portfolio of competencies,” as well as a portfolio of products and services. That portfolio of competencies actually provides a competitive edge for truly innovative businesses.
How can professional photographers apply this principle to their businesses? First off, you’ve got to identify your own core competencies. Then, you’ve got to fearlessly follow their lead, and delegate the tasks that don’t fall into the category of your “core competencies.”
Let’s look at two real world examples. Apple’s core competency is design. That core competency is the underlying strength of their hardware and software. For Netflix, it’s all about providing the best content delivery. They work hard to deliver content to their customers quickly, in a highly-personalized way.
Put on your business hat for a few minutes, and dive into these questions:
• What specific skills set you and your business apart from other photographers?
• What unique knowledge, or experience, do you bring to the table that makes you stand out from the crowd? (This is the stuff that your competitors can’t imitate!)
• What assets do you bring to your business that enable you to add perceived value to your clients’ experience?
Now, see if you answer “yes” to these questions:
• Is this competency unique to you and your business?
• Does it help you improve your client’s experience, and also pay off in dollars and cents?
• Can it contribute to some new services and products that you could offer?
The best part of identifying your core competencies is that they are almost always things you LOVE doing. That’s because they often grow out of your unique skill set and life experience. Since core competencies become one of the hallmarks of your business, they can be the driving forces of your competitive strategy – and that puts you on a path to long term success!