If you’ve been in the online marketing space for a while, chances are you’ve heard the gurus saying that you only need to be a step or two ahead of your audience. Some say you only need a 10% edge.
Essentially, they’re telling you that to build a successful online business, you don’t need to have subject matter expertise at a deep level.
I’m here to contest that and tell you that’s not accurate.
Yes, you might be able to sell a product or two and have a little success without expertise. But if you want to build a real business that’s going to last, you need expertise. Let’s dive into why this is the case.
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You Need To Stand Out In A Crowded Market
If you’re in a crowded market where other people are going to offer to solve the same problem for your audience, not having expertise will make it tough to stand out from the crowd.
How can you position yourself at the top of the market, as one of the people who should be listened to, if you don’t have expertise?
If your competitors have the expertise, it’s nearly impossible to compete with them because they can talk to people at a deeper level. They can help customers in a way that you can’t, so you’ll be losing potential business.
Without expertise, why would your audience choose you? The only reason they would choose you is if you were significantly cheaper.
Now, you might be thinking, well, since I don’t have the expertise to compete with the people at the top, I’ll just enter a market with no competition.
But before you do that, you need to ask an important question: why is there no competition?
That should be a red flag for you. It’s a sign that there’s probably not a real market there.
Yes, it’s possible that there’s just no one in the space yet and you believe it’s a viable market where there’s a real problem that you can solve.
But the reality is you’re still going to face competition eventually. If you’re able to penetrate a market and get success, other people will follow. If you have expertise, it creates a barrier to entry for others because those people can’t easily do what you do.
Your expertise will help you deliver a lot of different things others can’t and prevent competition. And if you did a really good job, they’ll have a hard time building a business around what you’ve already done.
You have to think in terms of building a business that can withstand competition, and that requires subject matter expertise.
It Determines Your Ability To Make Money
The amount of money you can make depends on how many people you help and the severity of the problem that you help them solve.
Basically, the more people you help, the more money you can make. The bigger the problem you help them solve, the more money you can make.
If you don’t have expertise, how big of a problem can you realistically solve? This will limit your ability to make a lot of money.
As you build expertise and are able to solve more complex problems, you will face less competition, and people will be willing to pay more for your products and services.
If you don’t have the expertise, you end up in the commodity world where it’s a race to the bottom to be the cheapest person and to solve problems in the least expensive way possible.
Again, this all comes from the notion of the value equation. Your earning potential is directly related to your expertise times the number of people you can help.
You Can’t Continue To Serve Your Audience
Regardless of the economic realities, if you start a business and sell scaled products before you have the expertise, your audience will eventually catch up with you.
Building your expertise after you’re already at that point will be a problem. You’ll have to hustle a lot more than you want to just to stay ahead because not only will you have to be building expertise, but you still have to market your product, deliver it, deal with the admin side of your business, and so on.
I’m not saying you can’t do it, but it’s going to take so much time and hard work. So, before you start investing money to build a course, membership, or any other online business, you need to build your expertise first. Without expertise, you won’t be able to continue serving your audience.
Build Expertise First
Here’s the tough love I’m giving you: if you don’t have real expertise, don’t create a product or any of that stuff until you build it. That might mean working a different job or working for someone else so you can build your expertise.
It could also mean figuring out what expertise you already have and building a business around that. Again, you have to come into this space with expertise and be willing to hone that.
No matter where you are in your business, you need to strive to continually grow in your area of subject matter mastery. Don’t ever think you’re done learning. You have to keep learning.
Speaking of learning, I’d like to invite you to join BADA$$ Online Marketing University (BOMU). It’s my FREE training program for entrepreneurs like you who want to learn how to build a business that will last.