Finding and owning a niche is one of the key things that any small business can do to succeed in today’s competitive market. It is vitally important that you distinguish yourself from your competitor. It isn’t enough however, to find a niche and start a business. You have to become the master of your niche if you want to realise true success.
It can be very difficult to decide what niche to move into… you can’t simply shoot in the dark and hope that you hit the bulls-eye. You have to sit down and work it through, investigate your niche and then think about what key messages you can use to entice that niche. Choosing the correct niche though will make an enormous difference to everything that you do and make is much easier to market yourself. It is much easier to stand out in the crowd if you specialise.
Here are the key steps to finding and owning a niche
Brainstorm niche ideas
Start out by coming up with a long list of ideas for suitable niches in your business category. Write down as many ideas about niche categories as you can and don’t evaluate them at this time (note: mind-mapping can be a powerful tool to help you out here).
Assess your niche
Test your niche ideas against the following criteria
- Does it fire you up? Do you have a passion for it?
- Is there a demand for it?
- Is there money in it?
- How competitive is the marketplace
Do you have a passion for your niche?
It can be time consuming to get to the stage where you own a niche, so it is vitally important that you have the passion and drive to keep you going as you go down this road. You’ll also find it much easier to sell yourself if you believe wholeheartedly in what you have to offer.
Create a niche shortlist
Go through your list of ideas and go with your gut feel on this. Rank your ideas on a scale of 1 – 5 and create a shortlist of niches that really fire you up. Niches that you can’t wait to go out and help. Niches that are crying out for your services or products.
Evaluate your shortlist
This is the tough bit as you may find that something that you are very passionate about does not have a feasible market, or does not have the money to support the type of service / product that you have to offer at the price that you offer it. For example if you are an coach who is offering £75 an hour confidence coaching to university students you are likely to find it difficult to find any students that can afford your services even though there may be a huge need for your services.
Is there a demand?
You probably don’t want to spend too much time researching all your ideas as this would take ages. Again, what I recommend is going with your gut feel first; odds are you will have a good sense of the answers to this question. It is really important that you be honest with yourself, or you could find that you are spending a lot of time and energy on a market or product that nobody wants.
Where is the pain or where is the desire
This is a standard question, but again, one that really needs to be answered. People buy emotionally. They buy because they really want something or because they need to fix something in their lives. Ask yourself, can your product or service fulfil that desire or resolution? This will make answering the money question MUCH easier.
Who is going to pay and how much?
It’s one thing to find people that want what you have to offer, it is another to ask them to pay for it. The money may not necessarily be where you think it is. Who is going to pay for your product or service. What is their optimal price point (and it may not always be cheap!). If your product or service is a high value, low supply item, you can charge more. If it is a high value, high supply item then you have to differentiate on other factors if you want to charge a higher price. Also, if your product or service is too expensive for your target market, there may be another group that is willing to pay on behalf of your customer like a large corporate, or the government. There are a lot of opportunities to earn money out of a niche, so don’t assume that there is only one answer. Be creative and work through the options.
How competitive is your niche
This is not a deal breaker, but does need to be something that you understand before going into a niche. Who are the key players, what are they charging, is anyone paying for Google Adwords (generally this is a good indication of whether there is money to be had…), how many people are working in your niche area. Google search is a good place to go for this as well as using offline facilities such as business libraries and speaking to your target market. It is possible to gain traction in a competitive niche, but you will need to know how you are going to differentiate yourself and market yourself to make yourself stand out.
Selecting your niche
Once you have answered the above questions about your niches, I suggest putting together a list or mindmap that highlights the information you know across your options. You can then make an informed decision.
A couple of great books to help you with find and choose your niche are:
We would love to hear about how you have niched your business. Please send me an email to julie at women-unlimited.co.uk if you would like to be featured on the website and share your niche story.
About the author, Julie Hall: I am the founder and editor of Women Unlimited. I am passionate about all things entrepreneurial, particularly for women and want to do whatever I can to help women across the UK and the world to succeed in business. I am also the owner of a boutique digital design agency, Springmedia, which specialises in logos and websites for photographers and service based professionals.