Is ‘finding your niche’ really the key to a small business enterprise?
Before you launch your business, you’ll no doubt have thought long and hard about what your business is; what it sells, how it sells it and crucially, who it sells to. Your target audience is essential. After all, it’s these customers that will dictate the fate of your firm, whether it flourishes into a larger enterprise or collapse amidst the competition.
It’s probably because of the so-called competition that gave birth to the oft-quoted mantra: find your niche and stick with it. In a hugely competitive marketplace, going against the grain seems logical. You come into the market with edgy, game-changing products. Your products garner more intrigue and, eventually, lead to a good volume of sales. With increased popularity, your business grows and so does your income. But this isn’t always the case.
With the ‘death of the high street’ becoming all too real, more is at stake than ever before for competing businesses. Products are being pushed in new directions and the level of possibilities seem endless. Small businesses no longer look for niche markets but instead target the niche markets of those niche markets. Instead of targeting 18-24-year-old males interested in sport, businesses might well instead target 22-24-year-old university-educated males interested in American sports only. Though merely an example, it serves to show how this practice immediately limits the scope of your enterprise before it’s even started running. You risk any natural growth your firm may enjoy.
A better method is to be aware of a niche, work to serve it, but keep a keen eye on the bigger picture. Take companies that started off small. Amazon, the online retailer, started out selling mostly books and DVDs online but didn’t let this model shape the growth of the business. Instead, it took on more and more products, expanding into electronics, commercial equipment and today, grocery shopping and its own TV service.
Similarly, Uber entered the taxi market as UberCab specialising in transporting clients in luxury vehicles. Instead of sitting within this niche market, it dropped the ‘Cab’ and expanded to appeal to all taxi customers and powered itself by technology. Today, Uber has launched Uber Eats and is a market leader in self-driving car technology.
Whilst your business isn’t necessarily the next Amazon or Uber, controlling a niche is crucial and it can be tricky to do so. If you have a niche, are you directing what your customers want or are your customers directing what you produce? With enough forethought, being active, not reactive, could separate you forever from a saturated field.