So you’ve decided you want to work for yourself and you’ve been inspired to strike out on your own – excellent! You may have great work experience or recently graduated, or you may be returning to the workforce. In fact, there is no set definition of what an entrepreneur is composed of. The important factor at this juncture is your entrance into the marketplace – put simply, where will you successfully fit?
We often hear the term business niche being used in relation to a tight space that specialists or gurus occupy, and in theory, it seems like a desirable place to exist. The marketplace is so overcrowded that everyone and every business appears to be jostling for position. However, those businesses claiming their position within a niche area are generally sitting pretty.
Specialists, or those that are experts in a particular area of narrow focus, are seen as distinct and having authority in regard to their service or product.
Nothing adds pep to a customer’s step like the notion of buying into expertise – it creates a feeling of added value. Niches sound like exciting places, but the paths leading to them are rarely signposted clearly.
Should You Find Your Niche?
As an entrepreneur, I believe that it is vital to offer a specialty. By their very nature, experts achieve this status by having deep knowledge of a particular topic. This is so time-consuming that the majority of experts focus on one area only, though in time, this may expand to an adjunct topic.
However, others argue that entrepreneurs are multi-faceted beings that wear many hats for many occasions. That’s undoubtedly true; however, this is often out of necessity during start-up, or until they settle into a niche. A business may quickly steer towards trouble if the offerings are too diverse. The diversity causes a dilution and no single proposition stands out.
To successfully scale upwards, the business advice often given is:
- To narrow focus
- Find that service or product that you can provide at a superior level
- Your solution must address a current or potential problem experienced by the customer
So, why settle for offering one service or product when you can champion ten?
Well, realistically this gap referred to as a niche occurs for a reason – it’s because very few businesses can capably fill that marketplace and hence, its lack of population. That is the positive aspect – the narrow focus for the entrepreneur – no need to be an expert at ten things! How about being fantastic at one or two..?
Finding Your Niche
Let’s examine some practical steps to get you thinking about your niche:
- Examine your business vision: What drove you to pursue your venture?
- Identify your target: Is your business aimed at consumers or other businesses? What are their needs?
- Funnel down your passions: What do you love working at? Now, narrow this focus to choose two or three of your favorite work tasks or topics you frequently engage with.
- Critically assess your skills: Not your day-to-day ‘wearing all hats’ roles, but your top two or three true skills that you would use in conjunction with your favorite work tasks.
- Think outside the box: Do you have any quirky ways of handling problems or customer requirements – are you good at thinking laterally?
- Determine from memory if you’ve noticed a pattern of problem-solving that you utilize intuitively: Something that other people find enlightening
- Examine what you believe to be your unique value proposition
These steps won’t immediately reveal your niche, but this pattern of thinking will attune your mind to your unique ideas, knowledge, and innate skills.
By the way, there’s no law that says you must stay within your niche – entrepreneurs by nature are ever-evolving, always curious, innovating, and watching for emerging gaps in the market – even creating them. You may just find that your love of learning and the world around you reveals new opportunities. Embracing this journey is what makes entrepreneurship truly rewarding!