One of the biggest failings I have seen in many businesses over my time as an on-line small business owner is a failure to seize upon a viable niche for their industry.
It’s a mistake we all make, myself included, when we set out to serve our customers. We all want to offer them the widest possible range of services, in a bid to make sure that we provide as many ways of generating revenue as we can.
The problem is, the wider we stretch ourselves, the less credibility we actually come across as having for those who use our services.
Potential Customers Are Scared
I have a friend who has accrued so many qualifications in her life that she comes across as being frankly unbelievable on her CV. She is a life coach, hypnotist, business coach, writer, ex-teacher, musician and singer, artist, counsellor, NLP practitioner, author, poet, project manager, journalist…the list goes on.
The problem is, all of these qualifications merely make her seem daunting to potential new customers who come to her business, to the extent that she actually omits many of these qualifications from her biography so she doesn’t deter potential new customers from taking her on.
Our products work in a similar way.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’, right?
It means that the more we dilute out capabilities, the less credibility each one has when we try and sell our services to potential new customers. People would always rather hire someone who is an absolute expert in their field than entrust their businesses or life needs to someone who is a bit handy at everything.
Because of this, we need to make sure that we set ourselves apart from the competition by truly excelling at what we do, instead of trying to please as many people as possible through random provision of services.
Narrow It Down
A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with one of my clients and we discussed the products she wanted to offer to her customers. She had come up with a plan for providing a time management course.
I was a little surprised.
Time management for whom?
The world and his wife?
We discussed the subject further and I steered her towards narrowing her niche down to cater for an area which she understood more about – time management for small business owners, working from home.
If my client tried to publish a guide on time management for everyone from Army Officers right through to Florists, she was heading for product failure.
The trick was to understand her niche, play to her strengths, and develop a product which was targeted, specific and useful for one small demographic of the overall population.
As more and more people seek to make a living online, our competition grows increasingly more fierce and challenging. In any industry, there will always be at least ten other companies vying to gain a foothold in their chosen niche.
It is no longer enough to offer generic services to our customers – we need to tailor what we do to make sure that we offer products and services which are exactly suited to meeting a specific area of our industry.
What’s your experience of narrowing your niche? Please share your views in the comments below.
P.S. Thank you Julie for allowing me to write this blog post based upon our discussion.