Finding Your Niche
By now, you’ve likely heard all the buzzwords. “Find your niche”; “Identify your target audience”, etc., right? Yes, ‘right!’; that’s because, like many cliches, there is a lot of truth in this advice.
“If you aim to please everyone, you’ll please no one.” Yes, yet another cliche. Again, very true. Whether you’re just at the planning stage of your business, recently started out, or have been in business a few years now, this is still excellent advice. I know other business owners who seem to cater to a very tiny niche market – microscopic, almost! My first thought tends to be: “But you’re limiting your market so much; how will it ever work?” But it does work! These entrepreneurs have successfully identified their niche – or perhaps a particular area in the marketplace that is under served; they’ve identified it successfully and it really works for them – so much so, that they may frequently turn down work from potential customers that don’t fit into their particular ‘niche’.
If this sounds counter-productive to you, let me offer a few possible benefits to finding your niche:
1. You don’t waste time or money. You don’t worry about marketing your skills/product to people that don’t fit into your identified niche; your marketing efforts are concentrated and therefore ‘speak’ directly to your target audience.
2. You hone your skills or refine your product(s) to suit this narrower group of customers, saving yourself time and effort.
3. As a result of #2, you’ll soon/already have become an expert in this particular field. Businesses in the same field tend to know one another and word of mouth is the best form of advertising there is. (Free too!) Your name will quickly become known among your target audience.
So, how to find your niche? If you’re just at the planning stage then you have some choices; the generally accepted wisdom is to do what you love, do well, and are passionate about. This is often very good advice, though we might not all be able to follow our passion. Nonetheless, if you satisfy even two of these criteria, you will – at least – enjoy your new business and there’s a strong possibility you’ll succeed.
If you’re already in business then you’ve likely already identified a potential niche. If not, look at your customers over the past year; is there a common factor? You might even need to consider the 80/20 rule. Likely 80% of your income will come from a particular 20% of your customers. What do these customers have in common? There is where you will find your niche!
One caveat – you may find that, having identified your target market, this does not allow you to work in the area you’re most passionate about. In this case you will have to make a more challenging decision. Will you throw caution (and financial security!) to the wind and follow your passion regardless? Or will you compromise and accept doing something you’re somewhat less enthusiastic about but that has proven to be financially rewarding? The answer will lie with your own financial circumstances – are you footloose and fancy free with low living expenses? Go for it! But if you’ve a lot of financial obligations it’s a more difficult decision – that is something only you can answer…