You’ve got a business idea but it’s, well, kind of niche. Maybe it’s so niche that you’re not sure where you’ll find customers, or if it’s even a sustainable idea at all. Never fear. We’re living in the golden age of startups, and there’s no such thing as “too niche.”
It’s never been easier for anyone to start their own business. You don’t need an MBA, the ability to code, or a team of experts. Everything you need to brainstorm, research, design and sell to customers is right at your fingertips. Just make sure you go into it with your eyes open and have a solid business plan before you start.
A good place to start is with a niche industry. You can find a niche market for absolutely anything; just take a look on eBay and Amazon, where you can buy a wig for your dog, live ladybugs, or a pair of Instant Underpants (just add water). Sure, these are novelty items, but somebody, somewhere, is making money off of them.
The beauty of the global marketplace means that even the smallest idea will have thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of customers, all around the world. And through the magic of the internet, you can find and connect with those customers.
Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of WIRED Magazine, writes about the idea of 1000 True Fans, sharing that no matter what your product or service is, it’s possible to find at least 1,000 people in the world who will be interested in it. And if you can figure out a way to make $100 profit from each of those people, you’ve just made $100,000. That’s a business.
Choosing a niche market to compete in comes with both opportunities and challenges. The good part is that you have a far greater chance of making an impact being a big fish in a small pond. Your ad costs will be less, you can rank higher in Google, and can achieve a higher share of voice than if you’re competing in a saturated marketplace with scores of competitors. On the other hand, it might be harder to find and sell to your customers because, well, it’s a niche interest.
Branding and marketing will be critical to your success as a niche brand. Here are the areas you should focus on when thinking about defining and growing your brand, and the questions you should ask yourself during each step:
Know your market inside and out
- How big or small is the market for your product?
- How many competitors do you have?
- Are there lots of small competitors, or a few big ones?
- How well are they doing it (and can you do it better)?
- Where will you fit into the market? I.e. is there a gap for your product/service, or will you be a “me too” player?
- Will it be easy to acquire customers from other brands (I.e. will you need to overcome brand loyalty to your competitors in order to make sales)?
- What is the cost of entry (your time, investment, share of voice, acquiring customers, etc.)?
Define your brand
- What does your brand stand for?
- Do you have a mission statement, a story, or a way to connect with customers emotionally?
- What is your USP? How is your product or service different than your competitors?
- Are you competing on price (a race to the bottom), a unique product feature (that can’t be replicated or ripped off), or brand positioning (which will allow you to charge a premium price)?
- What does your brand look and sound like?
- How would a customer describe your brand to their friend?
- Who are your customers (age, income, location, interests)?
- How do they look for your category of product or service? (Nobody is going to Pinterest to find a lawyer, but they might use it to look for tea kettle cozies).
- Where do they hang out online?
- What social media platforms are they on?
- Where are your competitors advertising? You should be there, too.
- Will PR help your business?
- Is it possible to get on the first page of Google SERPS in your niche? If so, an SEO strategy is a great investment.
Plug the gaps and play the long game
- What are you good at? Where do you have a skills gap? Find people with those skills you lack (I.e. analytics, marketing, content, SEO) to contribute to your business. Upwork is a great place to find freelancers to help you out on a budget.
- Where is your time best spent? Outsource any tasks that can free you up to work on the business, not in it.
- How many hours can you dedicate to the business?
- Is this a side hustle or a full-time gig?
- What’s your goal for the business?
- Will you need investment at some point?
- Do you have an exit strategy if and when you achieve your goals?
Starting a business is never easy, but starting up in a niche industry provides you with great opportunity to make a big impact in a small market. Let us know what strategies you’ve successfully used to start your niche business in the comments section below!