In case you haven’t noticed, we are in the sunset of the era of generalization. The Jack-of-All-Trades is becoming a thing of the past. Too many businesses are discovering too late that, if you are general in scope, people won’t use your services because they don’t know what you specialize in; what you’re really good at. They don’t want someone who’s pretty good at a number of things. More and more, customers want to find someone who knows their market well and who’s a wizard at the one thing that they need. You need to find your niche in the market that lets you narrow your focus and define your target clientele.
Build a wish list
Who do you want as a customer? This is no time to be vague. For example, just don’t think homeowners. Do you want to work with new homeowners or existing homeowners? What geographic area should they be in? New construction or remodeling? Younger or older homeowners? Moderate income or high? Do you want to specialize in kitchens, baths, sun rooms, decks, or garages?
Get clear in your mind what you want to sell. Keep two points in mind; you can’t make everyone your customer and less is more. Make a list of what you’re really good at and where you have the most skill. List your achievements. Identify your successful work habits and your problem handling skills. If the thing your best at, and like to do, is finishing molding and trim, you may want to decide to make that your niche and leave cabinets for the next guy.
Do your research
Once you decide on a niche, it’s time to scope out the competitive landscape. How big is the market you’ve chosen? Who else is out their vying for the same business? What are they charging for similar work? How satisfied are potential customers with their current vendor if they have one? Sweat equity now will save you headaches in the future.
Make yourself stand out
What you don’t want to do is create a niche that is occupied by a company that’s already successful there. You need to position yourself to provide a service that’s different from anything that’s currently in the market. How can you fill in unmet need or take care of a market pain point? A deadly trap is looking at a successful business and trying to duplicate their success. They’ve already met the unmet need and solved the pain point in that niche leaving you nowhere to go.
Be ready for right turns
Once to enter your niche, give yourself the time to determine if you are making successful progress. If not, reevaluate what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to change course. Be warned that it may need to be a drastic change. Things that are not apparent in the planning stages can become glaringly obvious once you launch. Avon started as a door-to-door book seller, Nokia produced paper. Wrigley started with the goal of selling soap and baking powder, Tiffany and Co started out selling stationary, and Berkshire-Hathaway sold textiles. They weren’t afraid to change direction and, while your changes probably won’t be that extreme, neither should you.