Jan Marie Dore asked:
Conventional wisdom tells us to think big. Having coached hundreds of small business owners, I find the ones that have the greatest success tend to think small.
What do I mean by ‘thinking small’?
I mean choosing a narrow micro-niche where they can stand out and get noticed. A niche where they get to do what they do best every single day – and nothing else. A specialty they can excel at because no one else offers the unique approach or specialized expertise that they do.
The biggest mistake many solo-preneurs make is trying to be all things to all people. They pursue very broad areas and markets in which thousands or millions of people are seeking advice or support. They’re thinking too big. They stay general, when what the marketplace really want is specialists.
What’s the advantage of choosing a micro-niche?
Micro-niching is a smart business strategy for solo business owners. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, you focus your energy on doing one thing extremely well. You aim to be the best in your region or in the world at that one main specialty.
I define a micro-niche as the combination of a unique specialty plus a narrow target market. Think of it as the intersection of your best expertise with a very particular type of client or industry with specific needs.
How do you choose a micro-niche?
The first step is to determine the one or two things that you do extremely well and that you really enjoy either doing or speaking about. It may be either something that you have experienced as a challenge and have learned how to overcome, or something that you’ve studied to become an expert at, or something that comes very naturally to you but that others struggle with. The clues might be in the things you continually talk about with clients, or speak about to groups, or in the books and magazines that you always read. Any of these would give you a clear indication of your specialty.
The second step is to determine the group of people or the audience who most need what you have to offer. This is your ideal target audience or target market. The more narrow you make this, the better chance you have of really standing out and being recognized as an expert in your field.
To give an example, a customer service specialist is not a micro-niche. Or, a leadership expert for managers is not a micro-niche. But, a customer service specialist for the retail industry, or a leadership expert for newly promoted managers in the financial services industry are micro-niches.
There are three very powerful business advantages of choosing a micro-niche for your business.
The first advantage is credibility.
Focusing on an area where you have specialized expertise in something you have directly experienced gives you instant credibility. The narrower your area of expertise, the more people will believe what you say. By micro-niching, people will readily want to work with you because you’re a specialist in the exact thing they need right now. You can become their trusted advisor and build a powerful, long lasting relationship over time.
The second advantage is virtually eliminating any competition.
By positioning yourself as the expert in a micro-niche you can virtually own that market. You want to choose a niche that’s narrow enough that no one can directly compete with you, yet large enough that there are enough customers.
The third advantage is commanding higher fees.
A key benefit of dominating a niche is being able to charge much higher fees because you can offer very specialized information, products and services. The marketplace will always be willing to pay more for the wisdom of the expert than for knowledge of the generalist.
In these days of global business on the internet, if you’re not micro-niching as a solo-preneur, you’re getting lost in a sea of generalists.
My advice: think small to get a bigger piece of the market and make bigger profits.