Top critical review
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A useful read, but no more
on 3 September 2017
For a freelancer or small businessman, this book is worth reading, but, unlike some other reviewers, I'd be very wary of treating it like a bible.
The evidence it presents is anecdotal; there's no real depth of research behind it. So sure, the author cites many businesses that have thrived from niche specialisations, but what about those that have failed using the same approach? Or those who have thrived from making their wider skills a virtue?
One of the main issues I have with it is from my own experience, both as a manager and a householder: over-specialisation is often a severe problem. (Do you know the old Flanders & Swann song, "The Gasman Cometh"? Check it out on youtube.There's still a lot of this about! )
I worked for an American company for several years, in which American management despaired over British over-specialisation. To give a concrete example: UK software developers who knew everything about their speciality, e.g. Java or Oracle, but were clueless about the world beyond, and could not understand how "their" technology interfaced with others, or roll their sleeves up and do software testing, training or work directly with end users when required.
One very successful local business I know differentiates themselves from the numerous plumber, carpenters and central heating engineers by their versatility - you have a problem with your shower or toilet, they fix it, even if it requires a mix of carpentry, plumbing an plastering expertise. (Wonder if their owner has read this book? Would be interesting.) And there are others I regularly use whose "niche" is just being very good, reliable and trustworthy - all the marketing in the world is no substitute for these.
Having said that, it's worth a read but please keep your critical faculties switched on while doing so!