What is Niche?
For those who are unaware of the term niche, according to oxford, niche is something
denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.
When one person decides to start up, the first thing they must do is to select a NICHE that they are ready to work with for atleast 2-5 years, make it profitable before moving to some other niche.
Following are some of the mistakes that I have made myself and that I have seen others make which contribute to failing or stagnant business growth.
1. Niche NON-Selection
95% of businesses fail in the first 5 years of their inception. One of the strongest reasons that I can attribute to their failure is the niche selection or the NON-selection of a niche.
When a business operates for anyone and everyone then it cannot land anywhere. I have seen some live examples of businesses that failed (including myself) and people I worked with or stayed stagnant for decades without any growth because they only aimed for SURVIVAL.
I was reminded of it again when I was browsing youtube this morning and I came across this picture from Tom Bilyeu’s channel. Even though I agree with it, I want to put it in a slightly different perspective.
Even though he talks about influencers, this concept applies to all entrepreneurs.
Niche – Wrong Selection
When I started my first business, I had a good amount of savings and I was bored with my software job. I wanted to do something more creative. I was attracted to colours and fabrics and instantly (like 2 min Maggi) I decided to start my business making fabric handbags.
Even though there was nothing wrong in my branching out because 10 years later, even today I see a lot of opportunity in that niche, I DID NOT HAVE FORMAL TRAINING OR EDUCATION NEITHER IN BUSINESS NOR IN HANDBAG MAKING. I relied only on my staff to give me a good quality product and I had nobody to rely on for marketing and sales. So my business tanked.
There are many aspirants of becoming influencers who also I have seen, have been misguided in their niche selection. One classic example that I can think of is a person, who is in the process of coming out of his negative conditioning suddenly decides to become a mindset coach.
I was in one such session, where a person with very little career experience was guided to become a relationship coach just because he helped his friends with relationship issues. Don’t we all help our friends with relationship problems, then should we all become relationship coaches?
We have to beware of succumbing to what is IN and focus on what WE ARE GOOD AT.
Niche – Non Commitment
Many businesses start with a niche but don’t stay committed to it. Classic examples are many small scale IT Companies in the region. These companies are started with 1-2 individuals who have expertise in one domain. But as soon as they enter a market, and find out that there is a requirement for other technologies and applications, they change their niche and become open to anything and everything.
They then have to put their team members on a learning curve and the employees also are prevented from having any domain expertise what so ever. The employees also become a jack of all trades, master of none.
In my past life experience, I am the villain who had put her team of 4-5 developers on a framework that they had no experience with, a framework that no other company will ever use, a framework that they had no interest in learning and a framework that put them through a lot of torture just because the organization wanted to fool the customer.
In another experience, I had met a company that solely dealt with ONE healthcare application that they could pretty much market in the whole country but because they sucked at marketing and sales (and they didn’t want to accept it), they were open to working on IT Security application development projects also, just because they wanted to make the salaries on time.
Niche – No Micro-Niching
Once a business has selected a niche, then as they gain more and more experience in the niche, they can move towards drilling deeper than drilling wider. But instead of trying to find their Micro- Niche and become an authority, they get lost in the niche.
They start to deliver solutions near to the niche, even though the learning curve for studying a new solution is huge and loss-making. I have a classic example but I will share it with my tribe and not openly here.
But I can share my own example. If I were any other typical IT company, I would be working with all kinds of application but I niched down to the internet and web application because I wanted to reach most number of people and I could only do that on the internet.
Also, because I am a creative person, I started by making colorful websites. I could have made websites on many different platforms but I didn’t let myself forget the torture of learning a new framework and therefore I decided to stick with WordPress. Now when I decided to stick with wordpress, I started to make WordPress websites for all my clients, who anyways didn’t have a preference. When I had made quite a few WordPress sites, I learned how to secure WordPress websites. In the process, I also learned to integrate WordPress with many other solutions that would help me reach more and more people.
Now, I could have introduced myself to other frameworks, just because there is a requirement in the market. But that would not have given me the expertise in WordPress, which allows me to solve deeper problems of my clients than just floating at a superficial level just to survive.
As I teach my Divas to become Digita Divas (chetz.in/webinar), I myself go deeper in wordpress, understanding it even better to help other millions of Indian businesses go online.
Niche – Uncool
Many entrepreneurs want to leave their past experience of decades behind and switch to a niche that MAKES THEM LOOK COOL on social media. Even though they have no experience in that niche, they start making videos and content around it. They do get a lot of likes and comments in the process but hardly any clients. And even if they get one batch of clients, that batch does not recommend them to any new clients.
Instead of focusing on looking cool on social media and pretend to be successful at what you are doing, we should focus on actually becoming successful.
I was also misguided into thinking that I should be inspiring women to be courageous and bold, just like me but me doing that would not have solved a ground-level problem. How can a woman feel courageous and bold if she does not have a constant stream of income for herself and she cannot live a free lifestyle? Once your bank balance is taken care of, everything else sorts itself out.
So instead of going the mindset way, instead of giving divas some unnecessary gyan that would eventually bore them, I decided to teach them website making, so that they could have a steady stream of income and automatically become courageous and bold in the process. In turn, I also get digital divas who would make websites for our clients and impact many businesses along the way of becoming an expert.
So be prepared to choose an uncool niche, especially when you have tons of experience in your domain and there is nobody like you in your domain. Don’t give that up just for looking cool. You will help no one in the process.
Niche – That Doesn’t Solve a Problem in the World.
Some entrepreneurs just select a niche for making money (they themselves don’t know that that’s what they are aiming for). Some entrepreneurs select niche fool themselves. Even when they have no subject matter expertise in a domain, they pick a domain and shout on social media about their expertise.
These entrepreneurs will not last for more than 2-3 years in business until they go completely bankrupt. Then they will sit back and think, what was I thinking!
Before that happens, we need to ask ourselves, HONESTLY,
What problem in the world are we solving?
Are we even solving a problem in the world? If the answer is NO, then, go back to the drawing board and start charting your niche again. Even though the world looks perfect from the outside, there are many internal problems that each one of us can contribute to solutions.
Every time we don’t have to look at the Government to solve our problem. If we find poverty as a problem, we can start helping people acquire skills. If we find cleanliness as a problem, we can take the broom and start sweeping. There are many problems in the world but make sure you only start with ONE problem and solve it so well that the world starts talking about it.
Niche – Confusion
A friend came to me and said, Chetna help me figure out a niche. He wanted to help improve the employer-employee relationship as well as improve the productivity of the organization. Of course, within an organization, improving the employee-employer relationship could result in improved productivity as a byproduct both niches in themselves were independent of one another.
The steps needed to improve the employee-employer relationship would be different than the steps required to improve productivity. Communication to raise awareness about the mismatched expectations between employee-employer would be different than communication strategy for improving productivity.
Every entrepreneur must save themselves from this kind of confusion and choose to select only one problem.
Niche – Not Tied to Your Experience, Your Pain and Your Solution
Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of not letting their niche be an extension of the problem that they themselves faced, SOLVED and something that they have the expertise and are good at solving.
Instead of reflecting back on what problem they have solved for themselves, what problem that they FEEL attached towards, they drift to picking up the cool stuff in the market.
This is where the IKIGAI comes to our rescue. IKIGAI in the Japanese proven technique of finding your niche and working towards that goal or that mission.