Understanding and carving a niche market for your business
I know it sounds cool when you are asked what product or service you offer and your listing seems endless. That can be the quickest way to an epic fail as a small business owner.
To be realistic, it is almost impossible to be the best at every product or service you offer especially when you are offering much more than you or your business can handle. There is the temptation to do too many things at once, typically the jack of all trades and master of none scenario. You have to intentionally carve out a niche for your business offering.
A niche market is the subset of a market on which a specific business (products or service) is focused. A niche market can be created with the location you operate in, the kind of customers you sell to, the quality of product or service, pricing, the way you execute your service or deliver your products etc.
Several entrepreneurs make the mistake of offering a lot of products and services at the same time or conflicting products or services. For example: Mr. X offers a Web Design Solution Service but also goes along to add Network Providing, Graphics Design Service, and Digital Marketing to the list of the services he is offering. This however turns out to be a disaster, as he is unable to deliver the best in any of the services he offers.
Mrs. M sells Cakes and Donuts but goes ahead to add Smoothies and Salads to her menu. Guess what? Potential customers are confused as to if they are buying from a sweets and confectionaries store, or a healthy food and beverage store. Your niche should be based on the interests of your potential customers.
Mrs. M can sell healthy bakes, smoothies and salads to a set of customers that have interests in the healthy eating lifestyle or she can sell Cakes, Donuts, Milkshakes, and Sweet fruit desserts to customers with the sweet tooth. Those are two separate niche markets and she could be better off picking one, focusing and excelling at it. This way, she doesn’t end up confusing potential customers.
There is also the unavoidable topic of customer satisfaction. Smoothie Express started off offering only Smoothies. We had different customers call in to request for other products to have with their Smoothies. We were able to evolve to sell some other products closely related to our vision because they were within our niche and easy to add to the menu. Some suggestions were outright outrageous. We once had a customer call to request we add Moin Moin [bean pudding] to our menu.
This was totally different from the niche market we had created and didn’t fit in with our product offering, so we declined. Some entrepreneurs intending to please their customers, will pick up a product or service completely conflicting to what they can offer. We once had a potential investor suggest we add a Gelato bar in the same space as our future Smoothie bar. This, of course, is an absolute no-no, a contradiction to our brand values and niche market.
Creating a niche market will help your business grow at a convenient pace, it will help in making better business decisions, it will enable easy scalability of the business and help increase revenue in time.
A lot of growing companies booby trap themselves by falling for the temptation of offering too many things and not being top-notch in any of their offerings. It is alright to acquire another company or hire experts in the products or services out of your niche market but please don’t attempt to run it all under a single small business.
Carve out a niche market for your product and services and by all means, kill it! At Smoothie Express, we do not hesitate to sing about our smoothies because we have created a niche market with our products and continually strive to be excellent at it. Smoothies are still our biggest source of revenue and will still be even if the space of smoothie businesses is saturated.
The nugget from this is to go with your vision and avoid distractions in your business. Of course, your business should be able to evolve, but do so cautiously and without losing the intended purpose of your small business.
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