“That which makes you weird is inevitably what sets you apart and makes you special.” This is true within life and humanity, but it is also true in business. Typically we call it ‘finding one’s niche’. Often, small businesses especially, stray from what they are good at and try to do everything else. That’s not a bad mindset, but it might, at times, be misguided. Branch out as it makes sense for you, but don’t lose sight of your ‘niche’.
By that, I don’t mean ‘cling to the old ways’ but having a niche is a good thing for your company.
Using Custom Equipment Company as an Example
Our niche is right there in our name. When it comes to Material Handling, we have a wide array of products. From Forklifts to Pallets to Fencing. We supply Racking and Cabinets, safety equipment and all of your Packaging and Warehouse needs. But, in the Material Handling world, who doesn’t sell those things? Our niche is Custom Products, meeting the specific needs of specific industries in ways no one ever has before.
So what Makes You Unique and What do you Do with that Information?
1. What is your Company passionate about?
This is usually pretty simple as it is usually a companies focal point. Ice Cream shops are usually passionate about Ice Cream. And Burger joints are usually about Burgers. But not every company is so cut and dry. Let’s take a Pet Store, for example. Some might be passionate about Pet Safety, while others may be passionate about Pet Adoption. Both are admirable and each is the beginning of it’s own niche.
If you are starting a Company, you may want to ask, specifically, what are your passions? It is always cool when you can create a company with a niche that parallels your own interests. It doesn’t always work out, but with the right business mindset, it stands a pretty good chance.
2. Narrow or Broaden your Niche as needed!
Sometimes a company’s niche is too narrow and it needs to be broadened. For example a Pet Store that only sells Guinea Pigs. That’s probably too narrow with a much smaller demand. Could also be an Ice Cream shop that only sells plain Chocolate Ice Cream. Options are good, but too many can be a bad thing.
Conversely, can you imagine trying to make a selection at an Ice Cream shop with a thousand different flavors? That’s too many and will force people to just pick one of the first ten or so. Baskin Robbins used the number ’31’ because there was a flavor for any day of the month. That seemed to bring them great success. Not so many that you got overwhelmed as a customer, but not so few that you turned your nose up from the lack of selection.
Find that happy medium where you can maintain the stock appropriately and give the customer a comfortably whelming experience.
3. Is Anyone else Doing your Niche?
Not only do you not want to saturate your store or company with too much product or selection. You also want to avoid saturating the market around you. (Unless you can take control of that market.) Two pizza stores in one of our more rural areas is perfect because one is artisan style pizza and the other is New York Style. They thrive on each other. On the other side of town, there is another rural area with five pizza spots. two have been there for nearly 30 years while the other three seem to be a revolving door of different types and styles of pizza shops. At some point, someone has to realize that two might be the magic number for that size demographic.
Check to see who else is doing what you do. If there is an overabundance or absolutely none, question why and whether you can thrive in that location.
4. Test Your Niche Nearby
I think the industry that can do this best is Food and Beverage. A Food Truck is an inexpensive way of testing a certain type of food in a specific area or community. Where as most industries can’t just pop up like that, Food Trucks can do some serious testing of the waters to find out the best locations.
That being said, it is harder for other industries, not impossible. The Construction Industry can go door to door handing out fliers for ‘Free Quotes” to gauge interest. The Occupational Service Industry, like Lawyers and Dentists, can jump onto neighborhood sites and pages as well as reach out to H.O.A. Offices and Apartment Complexes to get in touch with the communities. It’s not impossible, but it certainly isn’t easy either. These will all take some elbow grease to get the ball rolling.
5. Is there a Market for Your Niche?
Lastly, the question of whether there is even a market for your product, service or industry is one of the most important to starting and to thriving as a company. *Remember, just because you think it is wonderful doesn’t make it so.*
A Burger and Ice Cream Parlor that is known for it’s delicious Burgers has taken almost half of their menu and made it Vegan. Not because the market was asking for it, but because the Owner became Vegan. That’s not good business practice. It might serve you on a personal level, but it isn’t strategic from a business perspective.
If you live in a rural farming area, there probably isn’t much need or desire for a three story Hip-Hop Dance Club. Know the area and your market.
But what are some Markets that could use our attention today? The next Blogs will shed some light on the industries with the most bountiful areas of growth!! As we GROW towards a Brighter Tomorrow!!
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