One of the strategic questions you should ask yourself is: “What can I be best in the world at?”. Being able to answer this question will make you thrive in your career. But of course, answering this question is not easy. In essence, it requires you to find your unique value proposition. What value can you contribute to the world that can’t be given by other people?
To make yourself unique, Dilbert’s Career Advice has good advice: Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things and combine them. It is this combination that makes you unique.
In this post, I’d like to share some tips on how to figure out your potential unique value proposition. While they may not give you the final answer, at least they will give you an idea of which direction to go.
The best starting point, I believe, is not your competences, but passions. There are two reasons for this:
- Your passions are more or less “hardwired” to your unique personality. You need to discover them.
- When you are passionate about a niche, it will be easier to develop competence in it.
So here are five steps to help you figure out your potential unique value proposition:
1. List your passions
First of all, you should recognize your multiple passions. I’m sure everyone has multiple passions; it’s just a matter of discovering them. How do you know whether or not something is your passion? Here is a test:
Can you be so absorbed in it that you lose track of time?
If the answer is yes, then it’s your passion. Of course, this question is just a simple tool to help you discover your passions. You can always discover your passions in other ways.
List as much of your passions as possible. The more passions you list, the more possible combinations you could get.
As an example, here I list three passions:
- Animation creation
I will use these passions as example in the following steps.
2. Choose one passion as the basis
Now that you have your list of passions, choose one of them as the basis for subsequent steps. Though it’s up to you to choose, a good candidate might be the one that you are most passionate about.
For example, from the three passions above I choose science.
3. Pair it with other passions and see what ideas you can get
With one passion as the basis, now you should try to pair it with other passions in your list. Then look at what ideas you can get from the pairs.
For example, I pair science with the other two passions and get these ideas:
- Science + writing: Blogging about science.
- Science + animation creation: Creating scientific animations.
4. Pick the idea which is most promising
From the ideas you get, you should choose the one that is most promising. These three questions can help you decide:
- In which one do you think you can make the most difference?
The greater the impact you can potentially create, the greater your chance to succeed.
- Which one are you most passionate about?
Passion is important because it will keep you motivated in the long journey required to succeed.
- Has the niche been saturated?
If it’s saturated then your chance to succeed is limited.
Consider all these questions and decide which idea is the most promising.
From the two pairs in my example, I choose ‘blogging about science’.
5. Look at the other passions and find what value-add they may give
While the previous step helps you figure out your potential niche, this step helps you figure out the unique twist you can give. It helps you differentiate from the other players in your niche.
Simply look at the other passions which are not included in your chosen idea and think of the possible value-add from them.
In my example, the passion which is not included in the idea is animation creation. Then the question is: how can animation creation add value to ‘blogging about science’? An idea that comes to my mind is creating scientific animation as part of the blog posts. Or maybe creating a special section in the blog for animations. This will make the science blog unique.
At this point, you have figured out your potential niche and your potential differentiation. These define your potential unique value proposition. If you want, you can repeat this process by choosing other passions as your basis in step 2.
The next steps
After figuring out your potential unique value proposition, there are essentially two things you should do:
- Develop the required competences
You already have the passions; you should then develop the competences. This is where you should be “greedy” to acquire intellectual capital for your dream (lesson #21 in 37 Lessons to Help You Live a Life that Matters).
- Market your unique value proposition
Having good competences is useless if people do not know that you can meet their needs. It’s your job to make them aware of your capabilities.