5 steps to finding your niche
Deciding to start a business can be such an exhilarating experience, yet many people come to a screeching halt when they get to the step of finding a niche. We hear it all the time. Finding your niche can make or break a new business.
“You gotta keep trying to find your niche and trying to fit into whatever slot that's left for you or to make one of your own.” - Dolly Parton
We admit it’s not an easy process. You can spend days breaking your head, listing all your passions and interests but wind up with an unsatisfactory result. This happens because many times we tend to have tunnel vision about the things we love even if we don’t realize it. Woodrow Wilson said “I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow. It is an important part of the process. Carrying that weight on your shoulders can lead to decision paralysis.
The most important thing to remember is that it is a process. There will be research, experimenting, and learning from mistakes, but it’s worth it to have a viable niche for your business in the end. If you are like our clients, you’ll want to do the initial steps yourself before seeking help so you can maximize your time and dollar. So, to help you, we are going to share with you five steps that will help you find your niche.
Interests vs Passions
It can be easy to confuse the two and therefore make it harder to identify them. Interests are feelings that spark curiosity. If you want to know more or learn about something or someone, that’s an interest. Passion is a feeling as well, but it’s the enthusiasm and excitement you feel about something or someone. We recommend that new clients make two lists. One that lists ten interests and one that lists ten passions. If this sounds easy, more power to you, but most people struggle to come up with three, much less ten. Please know that doing the exercise will be very worth it in the end.
It’s important to know yourself that deeply, because if you are interested and passionate about something, you will be more likely to keep at it. If you think that you can fake that kind of determination, we suggest you think again.
If you have free time, ask yourself what the first thing you want to do. Maybe you find yourself daydreaming about doing something that you miss doing. You had favorite subjects in school and those could be interests or passions. If you don’t already belong to a club or organization, think about which ones you would like to join. As you can see there are many ways to think about it. It may take a little time, but we know you can come up with your lists.
When you have your lists done, leave them alone for twenty-four hours. Come back to it and you’ll be ready to start the process of narrowing down your options. Your next step is to identify problems that your potential customer has to which you have solutions.
We help our clients do this by supplying them with a sample of their target market so they can have a conversation with them. This is referred to as a focus group. You will have a list of questions ready to find the things they find most frustrating or difficult about the type of product or service that you offer. You should spend time going through message boards and take notes about the questions people are asking and the problems they have. Get your hands on some books related to the subject and the trends associated with it. If you don’t have the time because you are busy running your business, you can hire a firm to do this research with or for you.
Being the new kid in town is not necessarily a bad thing. If there is competition in the market you want to work in, that means that there is money to be made in that niche. However, you must know your competition as well as you know yourself. Prepare a spreadsheet listing every competitor and anything you can find out about them.
In this sea of competitors, you’ll be able to figure out the way that you will be able to stand out among them. If you study them closely, you will find ways to be different or even better than they are at something. The focus group sessions that you held, will help you in this step. They told you the things they dislike about your competitors, now it’s your chance to find a way to fix them.
Some items that seem to come up often in the research we do for our clients are things that can be fixed. They complain about the way companies communicate with them. An example would be if a company only has a presence on Facebook, but they prefer using Reddit. Others seem to dislike lack of transparency. If a customer has a concern about a product, for instance someone with an allergy can’t find a list of ingredients of a product. Ergonomics are another point of contention. Big companies spend millions in designing the packaging of their products to fit the consumer. A customer who has arthritis, will not like a product that is difficult to open and go for a different brand even if they like the other product better.
By the time you are at this stage, your niche should be coming into focus. Even if you’re down to a couple of options, you are way ahead of where you were. Now comes the time to figure out how much meat there is in the proverbial bone. Look at the products or services of your competitors closely. Make a list of these products, their retail prices, potential costs, and how many special offers and discounts you can find. Next, contrast them to your product.
If you suspect that you could compete with them, that is a good sign. Remember that this does not mean that you want to charge less that the competition. That is probably the worst way to compete, because it’s unsustainable. Instead look at how your product can be better or unique so that you can charge the same or maybe even more than competitors do. Someone in the mowing lawn business who includes a no extra charge for pressure washing the driveway once a year, surely has an edge over the competitors.
The most exciting stage for most of our clients is the testing phase. After your hard work, you are ready to find out which of your ideas will shape your niche. Unfortunately, most companies that provide services like ours test by asking people if they would buy. We believe that the best way is to ask people to buy. In a small scale, you carbon copy your product and set out to offer it in microcosm settings. For example, set up a pop-up store in a place where your potential customer congregates. So, someone who wants to sell yoga mats can get permission from a yoga studio to set up a table inside or outside and try to entice people to buy the product. Think of the possibilities. Maybe the yoga studio will consign some yoga mats to sell in the shop.
That is what makes this stage of the processes so enjoyable. When you see that your idea, product and dedication start to gain traction. It means that you have a successful business ahead of you if you stay focused and passionate about it.
We hope that you’ve found this article informative. If you enjoyed it, please consider liking it and following us so you don’t miss more information and articles like this. Feel free to contact us if you have questions or would like help coming up with your niche or business plan. 956-483-0506 or email@example.com
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