Successful entrepreneurs target smart business niches
“From aquatic sporting goods for dogs to Michelle Obama-inspired fashion websites, niche products and services have the potential to generate big bucks if they capture the hearts, minds and wallets of a dedicated consumer base. Unlike conglomerates that target the masses, niche businesses cater to highly defined markets that are often over-looked, underserved or disenfranchised by larger competitors.” (Scott Gerber, Entrepreneur.com)
When Tricia Holderman was 17, she was asked to clean an aerobics center – and so she did. Because she did a great job, someone else asked her to clean – and someone else, after that. Soon, she owned a housekeeping business.
Seven years later, she became so ill that she spent several months in the hospital – and, while there, she noticed that the cleaning chemicals smelled bad and made her feel sick. She noted when someone was kind to her – and when they weren’t – when they gave her a fresh sheet on her bed, and when somebody paid attention to her as a whole person, not just as a sick body.
As her health improved, she was able to use her hard-earned knowledge to start consulting with hospital cleaning staff about what was important to know from a patient perspective. This led to the creation of Elite Facility Systems, Tricia’s healthcare cleaning company that specializes in infection prevention and control, providing best practices and products to dental, medical, health and wellness and sports facilities. These range from small two-person practices to hospitals with 500+ beds, an NFL team and more.
She has provided consultations on the subject throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Russia, India, Central America and the Middle East. She consults on the “environment of care,” which ranges from how a room is cleaned to food served, from bedside manners and more.
Not surprisingly, Tricia says that the number one trait of a successful entrepreneur is being able to recognize a niche opportunity – and then turning it into a business. Here’s more on how to do that.
Strategically choosing a niche
USA Today lists ways to determine a niche for your small business, including by specializing in:
- Certain industries; this is “one of the most effective, straightforward ways to distinguish yourself”
- Demographics, such as offering “hair salons for children or tours for seniors”
- Geographical areas, much like a realtor who specializes in a certain neighborhood
- Knowledge or expertise that you have that gives you a “strong competitive edge”
- Clearly differentiated style, such as an “organic nail salon, vegan restaurant or a made-in-America furniture company”
Meanwhile, Scott Gerber in his article at Entrepreneur.com says to ask yourself these questions:
- Who needs your service?
- What’s uniquely useful about that service?
- What makes your service better than your competition?
- Who lives in your marketplace?
- Why have they been underserved?
- How can you better serve them?
- How can you unite them?
- In short, why is your simple service the solution to their problem?
Meanwhile, another USA Today article gets more granular with examples. In 2014, writer Joyce M. Rosenberg saw opportunities for companies providing products or services that make life easier, especially for those with larger incomes. These could include, as just one example, companies that deliver ingredients for ready-to-cook meals. This saves the customer time and lets him have the fun of cooking without shopping. Because companies already provide these services, though, you’ll need to be creative in how you further niche the niche.
Meanwhile, the market for gluten-free foods is expected to grow to $15 billion by 2016 and the article suggests creating a business that supports the industry, such as one that provides tapioca and other ingredients needed to manufacture gluten-free foods. Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Boston College, Dennis Ceru, says that, “The most hot trend is probably at least at its midpoint,” which is why choosing services or products that support that trend could represent opportunity.
Marketing to your target audience
Finally, it’s not enough to have an in-demand niche if you can’t effectively let people know what you offer! Caron Beesley wrote an article for the U.S. Small Business Association that shares five ways to target market your small business to the appropriate niches that’s worth reading, as well as one that helps your marketing message – and therefore your company – stand out from the crowd. “There is nothing more baffling to a consumer,” Caron writes, “than a business who is trying to be all things to all people – it simply dilutes your message and undermines your core value.”
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