Go Deep, not Wide
Starting and then sustaining a small business in today’s global market isn’t easy. In fact, if you’ve successfully gotten your business off the ground and kept it alive for a year or more, applaud yourself. You’ve done something that many others have not been able to do. Learning how to find your small business niche is the first step in having a successful business.
Chances are when you first decided to become an entrepreneur, you had a specific idea in mind. In my dad’s case, he wanted to be the go-to guy for small business online marketing success. And, he’s done well over the years due to a lot of early mornings, late nights, and managing the parameters of his business niche. It’s the last point I want to talk about.
If my dad had picked too broad of a business idea, I think it’s safe to say that my childhood would’ve been a lot different. If your small business cover’s an idea or service that is too wide, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin. On the other hand, if your niche is too specific, you’re not going to make enough sales to keep you afloat for very long.
Finding a well-balanced niche for your small business is a balancing act.
How do you know if your small business fits the niche shoe? Glad you asked!
What is Niche Marketing?
First off, what is niche marketing?
As listed by Entrepreneur, niche marketing is, “a portion of a market that you’ve identified as having some special characteristic and that’s worth marketing to”.
Niche marketing is what small businesses do. Because of their smaller size, small business are designed to provide quality service and problem solving to particular segments within larger groups. While big businesses cater to the large majority, small businesses step in to serve those who are overlooked in that process. They see the individual trees, not the forest so to speak.
The Sweet Spot
In marketing, you have two options. You can either be a B2C (business to customer) or a B2B (business to business) operation. These categories will define how you sell and market your services.
Once you’ve determined what type of small business you will be, you need to figure out what you’re going to sell. Be half-an-inch wide and a mile deep! For small businesses, less really is more.
Pick a focus, make sure you’re actually passionate about it, and run with it.
Once you’ve decided on your focus, you need to figure out what holes exist within that niche. You can find your small business niche by going to forums, FAQ sections, or resource platforms to determine where customers are struggling to have their needs met. Review what your competition is doing, compare them against each other, and find the overlaps and gaps that exist between them.
Those gaps and holes are where you can set up shop. Use your competitors as a template to build off of. Go the extra mile and give your target audience an incentive to chose you over the other guys.
Quality, dedication, and reasonable prices are not enough to set you apart. Those should be a given. In order to stand out, find an important factor that’s being overlooked and market that! Let your potential customers know you’re here to help and that you know their concerns.
Going a step further and offering a more comprehensive solution is how you’ll attract customers.
Your Business Niche Size
If you’re in the process of formulating your small business mission or if you’ve been on this road for a while, it’s important to review your business plan to make sure you’re still on track or if you need to re-evaluate some points.
Here’s a quick checklist you can use:
1) Do you have repeat customers?
2) Is your business marketable outside of your local area?
3) Do you have direct competitors?
4) Do you have at least 3 different buyer personas you want to target?
If you answered no to all or most of these questions, you focus may be too small and you need to think about enlarging it a bit.
If you answered yes to all or most of these questions, you’re within the limits of a good niche or you could be too big. More on this in the next paragraph.
Too Small, Too Big, Just Right
First off, we’ll address the “too small” segment.
Maybe you answered “no” to the above questions, but you don’t see the issue with being hyper-specific or see why those particular questions are that important. I’ll tell you why.
While you should absolutely be specific in your small business focus, it’s possible to go overboard. If your favorite clothing brand only sold one style of shirt or your gym only had one piece of gym equipment, they’d lose a lot of business. Maybe there are people out there who would only wear polos or only want to bench press, but those individuals alone will not sustain that business model for very long. Worst of all, that limited amount of clientele prohibits that business from growing.
Yes, a small business is supposed to fill a need, but you need to determine if you can become marketable while filling that need. Do some research and get the stats. Figure out what others are doing and find a way to do it better.
The other end of the scale is a small business with too big of a focus.
You can’t be all things to all people.
You’ll end up running through resources, running out of money, and running to the hills.
It’s better for small businesses to concentrate on a specific goal, using available resources to create a profitable solution. Having a more centered focus allows you to completely fill a need your target audience has. You’ll be using your resources more effectively and efficiently if you work to provide a solution to a need within your grasp.
Having a specific, but big enough niche also allows small businesses to diversify as markets change. Customer needs may change and the technology to best address those needs may also vary. A small business needs to be in a somewhat fluid state to be able to adapt to those variations.
Once your small business is within the right niche range, you can start to get your small business off the ground! This is where you can reach your target audience and increase your sales revenue.
If you want to have a sustainable small business, you need to learn how to find your business niche. You establish yourself in an industry by giving customers what they lack. Successful small business know how to choose a balanced niche and customize their services to best serve their potential customers.