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When you start at something new, you’re not an expert.

You probably believe that. But is that actually true?

Let’s start with a definition of expertise:

expert skill or knowledge in a particular field

There are three parts to expertise based upon this definition: skill, knowledge, and a particular field.

Which means you may have skills that make you expert in a particular domain, but you’d like to focus on a new industry. Say you’re moving from marketing luxury travel to adventure travel (shout out to Scott J. for this one).

The skills you have in marketing are near the same level. The nuances of the particular field (adventure travel) may be slightly different. But you’re still a knowledgeable marketer with considerable skills.

Another question: what’s the threshold for expertise? At what point are you qualified to share your opinions and sell your services at a premium?

When you can get reliable and valuable results. That’s when you’re an expert.

You don’t need to be the #1 anything to be an expert. So long as you have experience, knowledge, and skills to offer, you’re a formidable expert for many clients.

Instead, though, it may be tempting to compare yourself to other experts rather than the clients you want to serve. Resist the urge. There are many reasons to resist:

  1. The assumed level of expertise of the person you admire may not be true
  2. The results they share may be exaggerated or untrue
  3. The application of their expertise may be a rare or edge case, not applicable to most people in the market
  4. Your admiration prevents you from learning on your own, losing opportunities to find new and innovative answers in exchange for passively consuming advice (except this advice, you can keep reading!)
  5. The comparison to other experts also competes with serving your target market

Even though you may not feel like an expert, you still might be. Consider this a test you can use to determine if you’re more of an expert than you think. You probably are.

Notes