by Julie Wolk
We swim in a vast sea of advertisements… online, on billboards, on TV. These ads are like a multi-colored field of blooming flowers attempting to attract pollinators so they can succeed in their mission of procreating (or in the case of ads, selling products).
So, how do you spot the product that’s right for you in this field? How does the pollinator find its right flower?
There are actually flowers that have only one possible pollinator. These species have co-evolved over thousands of generations to be so perfect for one another that not one other insect can do the job.
How about that for a niche market?
When you create marketing that speaks directly to your target audience, those people will notice it and be attracted to it, like a fig wasp to its tree. When those people come to you and pollinate your flower… well, you’ve made a sale.
Like plants or animals in an ecosystem, businesses must position themselves in the most favorable places to obtain and deliver resources and develop beneficial relationships (think customers, funding, products, ideas, distribution channels). This is essentially the definition of a niche – an organism’s place in the ecological web of life.
Of course, my biologist friend reminds that those highly specialized flowers with only one pollinator are most in danger when changes occur in the environment (read: climate change). If its pollinator dies, and no other insect can stand in, well… poof! No more flower. Yikes.
She’s right: It is possible to have too small a niche and get destroyed. You could pick something so narrow that there is truly not a big enough group of people to buy your service, and you won’t sell a thing.
I think, though, in the world of humans, this is usually not the problem.
The vast majority of small businesses fail because they are trying to sell a whole field of different wildflowers to a whole bunch of pollinators instead of growing the right flower to attract its perfect pollinator.
Not only that, humans really differ from plants in this way (well, in many ways): if we notice that our customers are buying less of our product or service, or the need for our product begins to disappear, we can shift gears, if we’re paying attention. We don’t need millions of years of evolution to do it!!
Conscious entrepreneurs are paying attention to their customers, getting to know them better all the time, finding out their needs and fulfilling them. This is why our niches change over time.
Putting this into practice comes down to three things:
- Get to know your pollinator: her pains and woes, his desires and excitements.
- Cultivate your flower: what is your product or service, and how does it look, smell and feel?
- Continue the cycle: get to know your pollinator better, and continue to enhance and hone your flower.
Tad’s Niching Spiral illustrates these three actions really well as it acknowledges the iterative process of niching and the feedback you must get from the environment in order to evolve your product and marketing. This is the definition of biological evolution. The Niching Spiral is – as is your entire business – all about cycles of receiving input and making changes, receiving input and making changes.
One of the best-selling books in the tech start-up world is called The Lean Startup. A basic philosophy of this book is to create a “Minimum Viable Product,” (MVP) and test it. In other words, try something small, see how the environment responds, and make changes accordingly. Creating a niche experiment, in Tad’s model, is the perfect example of this.
So – time to nourish your unique flower to attract your perfect pollinators and experiment with a new idea for your niche. As you receive feedback, you can hone your niche and develop your business accordingly over time.
Just be patient. Evolution takes time.
If you’re interested in creating or growing your business through the lens of the Natural Business Cycle, please get in touch for a free 30-minute consultation to see if we’re a fit for individual coaching. I love helping consultant-experts, teacher-guides, holistic practitioners and other mission-driven entrepreneurs who truly have gifts to give, really rock the business side so they can thrive.
Bio: Julie Wolk, Business Coach, CPCC: For 15 years, I’ve worked with talented business-owners, visionary leaders, and passionate change-makers who have gifts to give. My clients draw from the business and nonprofit worlds and are teacher-guides, consultant-experts, holistic healers, and other mission-driven entrepreneurs. I facilitate the creation of transformative and connective experiences, programs, businesses, and organizations. I move easily from idea to action, I love the way structure creates more freedom, and I get totally lit up encouraging people to follow their passions and offer their gifts and visions to the world. I’m a natural leader, and I plan businesses in my sleep. (Literally. It’s hard sometimes). And, I am co-founder and former co-director of a thriving nonprofit dedicated to reconnecting people to the earth.