Finding your niche can flummox you, if you’re a typical solopreneur. I agree that serving the wrong niche can be like barking up the wrong tree, if you’ve not done enough early planning to identify the area of business that is going to reward your hard efforts with enough money. But the fact that a lot of wantrepreneurs are found to be Googling the keywords “business ideas” suggests that they are looking at Google for a way to know what business to do, when they have to begin by asking themselves first!
Challenging as it seems to find your successful business niche, as a first step to building your Content Marketing Strategy, it is uber-easy if you follow some simple steps with a systematic approach. So get a pencil and paper – and get down to some self-and-world-exploration. It shouldn’t take you more than 5-10 minutes at your desk, and about 20-30 minutes on your feet in the nearest market.
What is a market niche, and why do you need to find one for your solopreneur business?
If you look up the word “niche” in Dictionary.com it would go thus:
An ornamental recess in a wall or the like, usually semicircular in plan and arched, as for a statue or other decorative object.”
Obviously this doesn’t refer to a business niche, but you get the point, don’t you? A niche is a tight little corner of a larger space. That’s the same idea you have to apply to your business. You have to find that tight little market segment you can operate and shine in, and not try to grab the whole market to yourself. There are reasons why you need to narrow and define a “targeted niche” but we’ll come to that a wee bit later.
So now, let’s look a better definition of business niches, just to get a more accurate picture. Wikipedia says: “A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact. It is also a small market segment.” That sounds closer to what we want to know, right?
But then, here’s yet another definition of a business niche from the Business Dictionary that completes the story:
A small but profitable segment of a market suitable for focused attention by a marketer. Market niches do not exist by themselves, but are created by identifying needs or wants that are not being addressed by competitors, and by offering products that satisfy them.”
So there you are: when the word “profitable” enters a definition, you know that this is all about business. So the most complete definition of a business niche that every solopreneur can adopt is that:
Niches are segments of a larger target audience, where the group is more or less homogeneous, and can be served with specific products and services that are in demand in that niche. More importantly, the niche has enough of a demand for anything it needs, to be profitable or viable for a solopreneur to be serving that market.”
So there you have it … you have to get to narrow market segments that have large demands, and are thus rich veins of gold for you.
Now how do you go about finding your niche? There are a couple of ways … read on!
What are the steps to finding your niche? And how do you know you’ve got a profitable one?
To find your niche you have to do a four-way exploration.
Firstly, locate your own passions, skills interests and areas of past professional experience (if you have this). You are a solopreneur who is planning to use content marketing to do your online business. That means you have to write a lot – blogs, social updates, guest posts, discussions on forums, articles in popular magazines, email newsletters …
Writing is going to occupy about 90% of your time, so it stands to reason that unless you are knowledgeable at your topic of writing choice, or at least passionate about it, you can’t possibly wake up every day ready to write reams and reams of copy. It’s got to be a topic of your skill and talents and much reading, if not actual work experience.
Look at this diagram below to see if you can find that “sweet spot” in yourself which is an intersection of what you are good at and what you are passionate about. Chances are that if you’re good at something, and also passionate about it, you have more than a 50% chance of sustaining your business effort long enough till it produces results.
Okay, now look at this next diagram. It’s got an additional factor. It’s the likely audience for your writings that has problems you can solve for them. “Problems” in audience segments are “opportunities” for your business. The same thing that audiences call problems to solve create your demand for products and services. So look at the groups of people you want to target who have problems (i.e. demands) that your intersection of “what I am good at doing” and “what I’d love to be doing” can solve. Put that into the equation and you have a three-way intersection point that looks like what it is in this second diagram.
Before we close with this issue, however, we have to be sure of one more thing. So we’re going to add one more layer to this diagram. Ask yourself: “Roughly how many thousands (or millions) of people may be in this category or target segment, so that even if I get business from, say, 5-10% of this audience, I should be in clover?”
Either there should be lots of small demands from this market if it is a price-sensitive segment (volume-based market), or there should be fewer people demanding the products or services you offer, but willing to pay a high price for it (value-based market). How can you tell what kind of demand/price thinking dominates your market niche segments? You need to do a bit of actual testing here to know. This can’t be desk research, so you have to wear those “grey sneakers” as Edward De Bono says, and go out into the market and talk to people with similar problems and get a fix on their actual price/demand sensitivities.
Here’s the final diagram after all four angles of exploration are complete …
Now notice the small area where all four circles intersect. That is the area that meets all the criteria to make it a viable, do-able niche for you. This final diagram below identifies your perfect niche.
So now we have a niche that is ideal for your aptitude and passion, and one that is right for the audience demand and profitability factors. Now we are in “business” …
An example of how a solopreneur found his business niche in the most unlikely of places!
Eagon Nash (we’ll call him that for preserving his business confidentiality) was an engineer in a company that made artifical limbs for war veterans, accident victims and other injured people who had lost their legs. For fifteen years he had been learning how to “customize feet” for each individual who had lost his legs, and since no two people had identical injuries, his professional expertise was all about “non-standard feet”. So much for his area of knowledge.
Now look at his passion area and how it grew out of a strange family predicament. His sister-in-law was a grown woman of five feet six inches height but with the shoe size of a child. She had to find footwear in children’s stores, and invariably got “kiddy designs” but none of those stylish stillettos or pumps that could make a woman feel womanly and sexy. So naturally, she would keep badgering her “foot-expert” brother-in-law, to “add something to these kids’ sized shoes to make them look like a grown up shoes”.
Eagon spent a lot of his “quality family time” hunting for pairs of kids’ shoes which could be tinkered with to look more adult. In a strange way these trips on behalf of his sister-in-law became a challenge and a passion before he knew it.
On one of these shoe hunting trips, he noticed how many other women there were at kids’ shoe shops with a similar problem. He then Googled to see how much people were talking online about the same problem. He also talked to a few women at the shoe shops with the same problem, and saw they were ready to pay an arm and a leg for the right kind of lovely styles in the small sizes they needed – but only no one was making such shoes, and hence the scarcity and the potential for profitability in the business idea.
Eagon who was looking to start an online business parallel to holding his career, pounced on the idea. He first started content marketing to women with small feet, to build his audience. He articulated all their problems for them, and suggested advice and ways to find their right kinds of shoes. He soon had these women rushing to his website for small tips and names of shoe outlets in their cities where they could buy reasonably stylish shoes.
Soon, though, Eagon got one of his office “foot customizer” vendors to start creating “customized stylish shoes” from basic children’s footwear. Eagon’s brand began to take shape and a good initial name was found: “Cinderella”. Eagon was soon in prolific business as a solopreneur with an ecommerce storefront – he had shoes he had styled originally, alongside shoes he could style for customers who wanted “customized designs” at a higher price.
Would you believe that eventually this segment was found to be in millions and not just thousands?
The awesome four-layer question method of finding your niche – from Kavyon K.
As I was researching this topic of “finding your niche” I came across an article by Kavyon K. in Forbes.com titled “How To Stand Out: The Four-Layer Method To Cornering Your Market”. He has an incredible extra method by which you can articulate your niche beautifully after you’ve found it. It’s a method of layering your definition of your niche in such a way that you are never ever going to lose your focus.
Let me give you Kavyon’s own words:
Let’s say you are a fitness trainer for people … here goes …
Layer 1: “I’m a personal trainer.” The problem is that if you say just this, you’ll be as memorable as the hundreds of thousands of other personal trainers out there — meaning, not memorable enough at all.
Layer 2: “I’m a personal trainer who works with women.” This is one step in the right direction: You’ve now created specific interest in half of the population.
Layer 3: “I’m a personal trainer who works with women who want to lose weight.” This is getting even better! Not only are you stating who you work with, but you are also stating the type of goals you help them reach — in this case, losing weight as opposed to gaining muscle or training for a competition.
Layer 4: “I’m a personal trainer who works with women who want to lose weight post-pregnancy.” This is the best of all. Now, you’ve gotten super specific with the exact subcategory you work with and you have an easy way to tell anyone you meet about it.
By using this method to develop your perfect fourth layer, both you and your client base will benefit.”
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Marketing Strategy”:
- Micro Marketing … Going Granular Can Help Solopreneurs Grow Faster!
- The 7 T’s Content Strategy Method That’s Do-Able For Solopreneurs!
- 20 Questions That Can Help Shape Your Content Marketing Strategy!
- Steal Your Competitor’s Thunder With Your Content Marketing!
- How ToFu, MoFu And BoFu Content Helps Profit-Hungry Solopreneurs!
- 4 Smarts For Content Marketers To Help With Competitive Analysis!