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Refining Your Focus Brings Rewards

Written by Rob Barker, President - Kansas City Region

As a lifelong Kansas City resident, sometimes I sit back and reflect on how the business landscape has changed here in that time span. Although the general American public might not think of our area as a as a hotbed of entrepreneurship, it stacks up well against a lot of others. According to The Kaufman Index, which ranks start-up activity, Kansas City ranks 15th out of 40 metropolitan areas in the United States, a slight increase over last year. rbarker_candid

In my role as President of the Kansas City market with First Business Bank, this startup activity is front and center as I get to see a lot of business plans for Kansas City businesses. They vary in many ways, but one common success measure is tied to a narrow business focus — non-profits and businesses that specialize often are much more successful than those that try to be everything to everybody.

My favorite example is Children’s Mercy Hospital – a wonderful organization whose success comes from its clear mission. Every single person at Children’s Mercy Hospital is 100% focused on helping sick kids. Everything they do aligns with that mission. From the janitors to the doctors, each employee thinks: how can we best serve your child’s needs? That laser focus allows them to do great things for the kids in our community on all levels.

Of course, niche business models aren’t limited to the health care industry. Whether your business is a nonprofit, in the transportation and distribution industry, or competes as an emerging high-tech company, specialization is the first key to success.

The second step is how you align your focus with your clients’ needs. At First Business, we focus on businesses and individuals with sophisticated financial needs. By itself, that means nothing. It’s what we do about it that matters. By focusing on that niche, we hire the best business bankers in town who have knowledge and connections to help local businesses. We strategically have fewer clients to ensure we’re accessible. That, along with other differentiators, helps us achieve a bank client satisfaction rating of 98%. In the end, we deliver top-notch expertise and world-class service – and other financial institutions can’t even come close.

I love running a niche business. And in my role, I enjoy comparing strategies and benchmarks with other niche business leaders. If you’re in a similar type of business and share this philosophy, I’d love to hear from you.

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