This week, I want to share with you the importance of understanding your niche market(s) and how you go about it. A niche market is where you lay your focus, where you gain intimate knowledge and where you can potentially get a large piece of the market pie.
When I started last year working with start-ups, I was regularly asked why work with start-ups? I had been searching for a while to put my passion and skills to good use. It was a struggle to connect my passion for “doing good” and “setting people up for growth” with a job or a traditional consulting business.
My skills are not displayed easily –analyzing, stepping back to find another perspective, connecting people, problem solving, mentoring, strategizing and motivating. Yet somehow I always ended up building departments from scratch. An intrapreneur, some would say.
Three steps to find your niche market
So how could I make that change from intrapreneur to entrepreneur with the niche market that fits my skills and passion? I simply connected my passion and my customers with three rudimentary (and tedious) steps:
- I asked myself this: what is the impact I want to make?
- Noted down the gaps between who I am connected with right now and who I should be connected to if I want to make that impact
- Created an ideal customer profile
Each step has a tool attached to it that I developed, used, changed and then re-used. None of them are made from scratch; there is no reason why anyone should not use the knowledge already out there. I am now sharing these practical and easy tools in my training and mentoring sessions.
Key is to remember that start-ups have to make assumptions because they don’t always have all the data (except the general market information available to everyone). These tools are designed to help start-ups think about what they need to know and what assumptions they are making, in combination with testing these assumptions as much as possible.
This is why I strongly suggest every start-up to start talking before selling. Test your assumptions by sharing your idea and asking for feedback from potential customers. Blog even before your website is launched and reach out to people. Network and let connections know what you are up to. You will create a wave of interest and curiosity that provides you valuable feedback and increases the quality of your service.
Three tools to find your niche market
The Change Pathway helps you with step one, understanding your impact, and is based on the Theory of Change that is used in the non-profit and non-governmental sector. It is an in-depth instrument to help you define your impact in terms of outcomes tied to interventions. For start-ups I have simplified the theory into a guided brainstorm too that I named The Change Pathway to understand the problem, the stakeholders, your desired results, influences and best practices.
A practical stakeholder matrix is useful to get a grip on step two, connecting with important people for your business. The matrix builds on the information gleaned from The Change Pathway. Through the matrix, you understand the stakeholders’ importance and connectedness to you. In essence, you need to prioritize them. Mind Tools has a variety of useful applications and techniques, including the stakeholder analysis.
The third step is to know your customers as intimately as possible. This is the exact reason why I suggested earlier to blog and network before you launch your business. People’s feedback keeps you sharp and focused – positively influencing your unique value proposition.
Creating a customer profile is the ideal tool to find out more about your clients. Learn about
- Basic demographics
- Cultural setting
- Educational background
- Geographic location
- Interests and thoughts
There is much more to know about these five categories; I would be happy to share with you the handout I use at presentations. Just email me with the subject line “Please send me the customer profile handout“.
In a nutshell I have just shared how I found my niche market by taking three simple steps that each required a bit of research that got me away from my laptop and internet connection. My passion to mentoring is connected to strategic skills that I use to help aspiring and new entrepreneurs get off the ground within their limited budget.
Do you know your niche market? Please share how you found yours!