“But if I niche, won’t I go broke and lose clients?”
I hear this question all the time.
Sometimes it’s spoken explicitly and sometimes I can just see it in people’s eyes and body language, this deep discomfort with niching and fear that it will lead to the worst.
If you niche, will you go broke?
Because you can’t not have a niche. There’s no such thing as a business without a niche. The next time you’re driving through town, try to find a single store that doesn’t have some sort of a niche. You won’t be able to.
If you niche poorly can you go broke?
In fact, it’s usually the poorly niched businesses that go under.
What do I mean by ‘poorly niched’?
I mean a niche that wouldn’t get a strong ‘yes’ to the following three questions. These are the three questions I’ve used over the past decade or so with my clients to help assess the baseline, market viability of their niche. There are other questions worth asking, but these are the big three.
Q1: “Is my niche clear?”:
Meaning, do people immediately ‘get it’. Do they understand what you do. Is your homepage clear. Do they see the sign on your shop and know exactly what it’s about? Or is it fuzzy, confusing and do you see eyes glaze over when you go to talk about it.
Q2: “Are there enough people who can afford to pay me full price?”:
If not, then don’t do it. Or start a non-profit that serves these people. Or keep this business as a side hustle. Or find a new thing to offer or a new target market or two. If you identify a group of people to serve or a particular thing you want to offer and you find, through research or trying to make a go of it, that there aren’t enough people who can pay you the money you need, then something needs to change.
This questions speaks to the main concern people have, that there won’t be enough people to sustain their business. It’s a valid concern. I’m glad people raise it instead of ignoring it.
Q3: “Can I find them?”:
This comes back to the question of hubs. Are there people who are already connected to them? Places they hang out? Media they follow? Hashtags they use? Groups they’re a part of? Places they already spend their time, money or attention? If you can’t find any hubs at all, then there’s a good chance that the group is currently too small or that your niche is actually fuzzier than you think it is.
Niching is not the only the only factor in whether or not a business succeeds but…
If you can answer ‘yes’ to those three questions, the chances of your business failing because of your niche are low.
If you can answer ‘yes’ to these three questions, then there’s a good chance your business will have a very solid foundation that allows it to be found and shared easily by the people who need it most.
If you niche poorly (e.g. “I help everyone with everything in a variety of ways.”) you are
more likely to go broke and lose clients.
If you niche well (e.g. “I help ________ folks with ______ problems in _______ particular ways.”) then you are more likely to make money and gain more clients.