The Professional Rookie and why you shouldn't turn your back

It's smart to study your competition.  It helps you innovate.

Today, your competition may not be so easy to identify.  That's because you're looking for someone like you. Well educated, well dressed, nice office, cool staff...

Trouble is, while you're busy studying everyone you're comfortable identifying as the bad guy, your real competition is sitting right next to you.  It's more of a movement than a rival person of X firm.  And typically, you dismiss them.

Why?  

They're not qualified enough, not expert enough, not enough experience, no references, not enough formal training.  Do people really need this stuff to take some of your market share?  To influence your customers? To start a global movement that turns your industry on its head?

No.  (Not as much as they used to.)

From the Wall Street Journal:

This is the age of the amafessional, when amateurs are rivaling professionals in opportunity, talent and the ability to produce quality work. It's happening in virtually every field. In areas ranging from communications to medicine to simply making things with your hands, amafessionals are gaining in numbers and the ability to market their services.

Struggling amateurs used to want to become stars, and of course some still do, but this new phenomenon is different. Millions are participating just for the fun and challenge of it–-almost like running in a marathon. "Amafessionals" include both the amateur/professional hybrid and pajama professionals, who often work at home rather than the studio or the office.

If this is the case then why do the professionals continue to shun the less trained in their field?  (Reporters shunning iReporters and the like.)

Truth is, if you actually are a leader in your niche, you're not frightened by the rise of the amateur class.  In fact you embrace it, study it and work to educate and train anyone who's interested, sometimes giving away your best ideas and strategies away for free.

Take another look at the new gal on the team, the emerging blogger, the guy at home who's working feverishly on some line of code that could take down your whole industry...and make friends.

Why?  Because:

  • They do more with less;
  • They aren't afraid to fail;
  • They're passionate as hell;
  • They have more time to always keep their eye on the next big thing;
  • They're not as worried about overhead as you and the innovation flows more freely;
  • They'll make you better at what you do.

The little guy is more of a threat and potential asset than ever before.  Embrace the amateur.