Many aspiring business owners dream of discovering a brilliant idea that’s never been done before, changing the world with it and making their fortune.
Unfortunately, that’s something few achieve. With around 5.7 million private sector businesses operating in the UK alone, and hundreds of thousands starting every year, there’s a very small chance of offering something nobody else has thought of.
So do you really need to be different to be successful?
While you won’t necessarily invent something brand new, finding a niche will help you to better focus your business, as well as narrowing down your competition.
It means you have a better chance of building a loyal following of customers who trust your business and keep coming back.
Here are some of the first steps to finding your small business’s niche.
Look at what you do well
When you’re trying to enter an already saturated market, it makes sense to play to your strengths.
Otherwise, you’ll be faced with an added barrier when you’re competing against businesses that have more experience or more knowledge of your chosen market.
If you’re not sure what your niche might be, it could help to start by thinking about your interests, what you’re good at and what you’ve done well before.
Could these skills solve a problem for people in your target market? If you can pinpoint an idea you’re interested in and knowledgeable about, which meets a potential customer’s needs, this is a likely option for your business’s niche. Business experts sometimes call this ‘product-market fit’.
Analyse the competition
Before getting started, make sure you have a good idea of what everyone else is doing. Look at the different businesses in your sector and location, what kind of products they offer and how they operate.
It may also be helpful to look at wider market trends. What kind of products are popular at the moment, and why? It might be a particular message or purpose, or a design style that appeals to your target market.
At the same time, be wary of jumping on a trend that won’t last. Make sure your idea is sustainable, and that you can adapt it to suit changing market trends without having to reinvent it completely.
Tailor your branding
Very few businesses have a genuinely unique idea or product. More often than not, it’s the way they present themselves that makes them stand out against the competition.
Again, this ties in with the importance of trust. People want to feel like they’re part of something, and they’re more likely to buy from a brand that speaks to them.
So if you can make your product or service, and the experience of buying it, feel tailored to a specific customer, that customer will be more inclined to choose your business over a competitor.
Test your idea
Testing is essential to make sure your idea really is viable. It’s best to start doing this as early as possible so you can adjust your plan accordingly.
If possible, find a small selection of customers to test your product and provide feedback before you open up sales to the public.
Try to reach beyond friends and family when you’re testing your idea. Online tools can help with this – you could try using a crowdfunding website to see if people are willing to pay for your product, or setting up a simple website and seeing how much traffic it gains.
At Evans & Partners, we love working with new business owners to build on their ideas and take them to the next level.