A friend and colleague recently introduced me to Richard Ho-Shue, a Senior Sales Consultant with AmeriMerchant (if you ever need creative financing for your business and are having difficulty going through banks, get in touch; Richard likely can help). We were both aware of each other’s industry and company, and we both tend to recruit the best and the brightest whenever possible. Yet, within a few minutes of speaking with each other, we both knew we would have a great collaborative relationship as long as we allowed the other to do what they do best. Each of us found our niche.
Narrowing Your Focus
In a previous post I spoke about the creative freedom that comes from setting limitations. In a sense, finding your niche is all about setting limits. We all have many, varied talents, and often wide-ranging interests. While it’s true you can accomplish anything to which you set your mind, if you pursue too many interests simultaneously, chances are you’ll never excel at any of them. The reason is each pursuit requires a certain commitment of time, and there is only so much time in a day. Therefore, you have to focus on those things that are most important to you and give those things your utmost attention. By extension, that means you forego other things in order to achieve excellence in your primary pursuit.
Some will disagree with me. They’ll argue they know people skilled in many areas and actively work in all those diverse fields. No doubt that’s true. I know people like that as well. Yet, unless you’ve met one of those truly gifted people who can develop many separate and distinct skills simultaneously, most people who operate in multiple arenas developed one enterprise first then moved on to another. Again, it’s a time issue. You’ve likely heard it takes around 10,000 hours to become an expert in something (approximately five years of working 40-hour weeks), which is an average. Some fields require less time, others significantly more, according to Udemy.com as related on the Expert Enough website (thanks to Caleb Wojcik for sharing). Therefore, if you’re attempting to develop two areas of interest that require a significant time investment, something has to give. You’ll either sacrifice sleep, quality, or more than likely both. Therefore, you need to pick a starting point, and that basically means finding your niche.
Interestingly, that starting point is not necessarily the thing you do best. You should start in a field that best mirrors you as a person, even if that means you have to work harder at the start in order to develop proficiency. That’s especially true if you become an entrepreneur. While many endure jobs they can do with their eyes closed yet don’t truly enjoy, being an entrepreneur doing something you don’t love is nearly impossible. The challenges facing an entrepreneur are generally much greater than those facing employees. Therefore, if you aren’t doing something that truly matches your inner self, chances are you’ll quit.
That raises the question…
How Do I Find My Niche?
In an article featured on eHow.com, Louise Balle talks about find your business niche. Her focus was on locating a narrowly defined market in which to specialize, thereby reducing competition and increasing profits. Her advice easily adapts in helping all find their specific niche in general. She suggests the following:
- Take stock of yourself. Start by listing all your interests, skills, and areas of expertise. This gives you a starting point. If you’ve received certification in something, even if seemingly trivial, put it down as well.
- Narrow your focus. Here’s where the fun begins. Narrow down your options to two or three general areas. This is the challenging part, particularly if you have many diverse interests. However, focusing on your inner being, who you truly are, can help. Having a personal “mission statement” helps. Since my faith is important to me, prompting that I serve others, a business that allows me to provide a needed service and help others materially and emotionally, as well as create opportunities to provide spiritual assistance was the best fit. That’s why I made the choice to work with LegalShield.
- Do your due diligence. The next few points on Ms. Balle’s list fall under this heading. Do your research on the areas of interest you’ve chosen to see what it takes to enter and become successful in that field. She lists four items that fall under this heading:
- Contact friends and colleagues who work in the industry. We all know people working in many different fields. If any of these work in one of your primary target areas, ask them for the inside scoop. Their insights might prove invaluable in making an accurate assessment of whether or not the particular industry in question is right for you.
- Attend classes and training seminars. Check local listings for classes sponsored by trade associations, industry groups, continuing education at colleges, and the local Small Business Administration for starters. You may find many other organizations sponsoring classes and seminars. Some will be free or low-cost, while others may require a more significant investment. However, since you’re planning your future, the investment is worth it, and the insights gained can serve you even if you don’t choose that particular field.
- Ask colleagues and friends about potential products/services. Since you want to provide something that fills a need, get feedback from various people about the challenges they face and what will make things better. You can even ask those you meet at networking events as you converse and build rapport.
- Be creative and do additional research. What’s presented above gives you a starting point. As you conduct your research, new questions may arise. Finding answers sometimes requires creativity and thinking “outside the box,” and that’s a good thing. It will help you make a final decision and give you practice using different sources when conducting research.
Finding your niche takes effort, and there’s no way around it. Yet finding your calling (or at least something that truly resonates with you as a person) makes all the work worthwhile. By applying the suggestions above and creatively exploring new options, you’ll come up with an area of interest that satisfies you and meets the needs of others. Once you do, then it’s time to get started! You’ll be happy you did.
Have you found your niche? What path did you take before arriving in that happy place? Or are you still searching for your niche? If so, what steps are you taking towards finding it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments below.
- How to Come Up with an Online Business Idea (epicafinance.com)
- Importance of Targeting a Niche Market (thetechscoop.net)
- Choosing A Niche – Profitability Vs. Personal Interest (theappentrepreneur.com)
- Finding your Niche (lawpracticeliberation.wordpress.com)
- 13 Strategies of High-Achieving Successful Entrepreneurs (solo-e.com)
- Entrepreneur helpfultipstogetyoustarted-120710063007-phpapp01 (slideshare.net)