One of the most daunting aspects about starting up a business from scratch is the thought that you will be competing against much larger businesses which have been around for a lot longer and are far more established than you in the market place.
But there is a fantastically simple solution to this – do not compete against them. Instead find a small segment of the market which is either too small or too specialised for the big boys to bother with – and then waste no time in making it your own.
Take Bathstore.com, which sells nothing but bathroom accessories. Or Penhaligon’s perfume shops. Or the Left Handed shop, which sells accessories for left handed people. Or even the Ooze Risotto restaurant in London’s West End, which sells little else but 13 types of risotto. All have created successful businesses by focusing on a single product, and then making sure they know absolutely everything there is to know about that product.
The big advantage of finding a niche, of course, is that by offering a specialised service you are not only reaching the parts that the big players cannot reach – you are also able to get closer to your customers. That means you can focus your product or service in a way that really suits the customer and fits their needs. And so the more niche you are able to be, the better you are able to satisfy their demand.
There are however some limits to how niche your niche can be if your business is to prosper. There is probably not a great deal of demand for gold plated dustbins no matter how much specialised knowledge about gold plated dustbins the person who sells them has. It is possible to be too niche. When you focus and refine your product or service to such a point that the market is not big enough to sustain your business and there are not enough people out there to buy your product or service – that is when you know you have gone too far.
Rachel Bridge is the author of You Can Do It Too, published by Kogan Page, hardback, 184 pages, £14.99.
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