As a small business owner setting out to carve your niche is probably the simplest yet the most difficult thing you have to do. Defining your market, doing something that you know and enjoy and focus are some of the first few things that you will have to think about when you start out. Here are 7 tips to help you along the way…
1. Find Your Forte
Begin with yourself; determine what it is that you are good at or even enjoy doing. It could also be something to do with any specific domain knowledge that you may have. For instance most signature chefs are the people who have established their own specialty restaurants. The key? Focusing on their domain knowledge and using it to build their brands. As I said in my first post earlier this month…for a small business, the owner is the brand.
There are a number of people who have turned their hobbies in to successful enterprises and there is no reason why you cannot do the same. If you can dish out the best cupcakes in town there is no reason why you cannot turn that in to a lucrative business venture. Even something like a flair for gift wrapping can become a venture that offers gift and trousseau wrapping solutions.
2. Focus on one or two specialties
To begin with at least its best to focus on just one or two things. This will help you to build an image for yourself and your business. For instance Sanjay Garg is the man behind “Raw Mango”, a two and a half year old label that specializes in an exclusive range of Chanderi sarees in silk and cotton. His designs are contemporary and one of a kind and his specialty is just one thing…Chanderi sarees.
Focusing on one or two things ensures that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. It also gives you the time and energy to devote yourself to one thing and to do it well. That is how you bring quality to your work.
3. Determine Your Target Market
“Who is my customer?” This is the most pertinent question in business. A detailed customer profile in terms of gender, age, income and aspiration levels is what is required… In the beginning and the end it is really all about the customer.
Take the example of the wearer of a “Raw Mango” saree…she would be a lady who values contemporary designs, looks for exclusivity, shuns synthetic wear and is willing to pay premium price for a range of sarees that are woven and designed with care.
4. Personalization and Flexibility
Customers today look for personalization and flexibility on the part of the vendor. This is precisely why there is a growing preference for designers who offer “custom tailoring” and exhibit willingness to work in tandem with their clients. People opt for designers who are open to working with their fabrics instead of those who insist on sourcing it for them. The premise is that if clients want a standard look then they wouldn’t come to you in the first place. Think about…what is it that you can offer them as opposed to a store where the only personal touch they get is the sales person who helps them pick outfits off the rack.
5. Word of Mouth Publicity
A satisfied customer is your biggest sales person. Do not undermine the importance of word of mouth publicity in popularizing small business. No amount of advertising can get you as many customers as word of mouth publicity can.
This is particularly important if you are in certain lines of business like beauty, fitness, apparel or food. If you can make a customer feel special, give him/her complete attention and work in tandem with his/her requirements he could tell ten other people about you and that is how business really works.
6. Create new products/services in the traditional products/services category
Very often aspiring entrepreneurs confuse innovation with invention. Simple changes can be introduced to create new products by tweaking the traditional model. For instance vegetarianism is a way of life that is being followed by many people across the globe. Even among vegetarians there is a growing preference for products that steer clear of dairy products like milk, cream, yogurt and cheese. “The Green Stove” is a venture that caters to this niche market. Peanut or almond milk instead of cow’s milk and tofu instead of regular cheese are just some innovative inclusions that this venture makes to churn out “truly vegan fare” that doesn’t compromise on taste or quality.
7. Price Your Products Right
Pricing decisions are crucial particularly if you are in a business that is intensely competitive. This does not mean that you under price your products/services for fear of competition. To determine the price you need to revisit the profile of your target market. If your target market comprises of high flying executives for whom price does not matter but exclusivity does then premium prices will not deter your customers from buying your products/services.
For instance bed and breakfast schemes would find takers among backpackers and other travelers who want a low cost vacation while others who are looking for a vacation with all the frills would definitely go to an exclusive holiday resort.
Good pricing is essentially all about focused customer profiling.