Many of the so-called experts recommend starting a business by determining the niche. Grab a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, sit down at the kitchen table and get to work. Let’s get it done this afternoon so we can start marketing, right?
Uh, sorry, it doesn’t work like that in real life. We can make an initial, broad pass at it so we can start marketing immediately. But the refined niche that we want a long-term relationship with finds us more slowly as we listen to our hearts and think about our thoughts. (Are you more feeling oriented or thought driven?)
Personal coach Lynn Serafinn said it so effectively on the New Coach Connection Yahoo Group today that I’ve got to quote her:
“A niche is not something we “decide” but something that is longing to come out from us, but we might be suppressing. . . .
The magical niche
“I think the niching process is extremely important BUT it is NOT an analytical one. Your niche should not come from your head, but rather it should unfold organically from your heart. When you allow that to happen, then your niche becomes exciting for you, and you also gain the reputation as the “magician” in your field, because, quite frankly, you are! When you allow yourself to be the magician, your niche becomes sustainable for you, not just financially, but emotionally as well, and you won’t burn out from it.”
Refining the niche
I’d like to add that a niche can be refined—or even changed—over time. This does not mean that we made the “wrong” choice the first time or that we have trouble “sticking with” something. Some of the most inspired and dedicated individuals change their niches several times during their careers as they learn new things about themselves or identify new needs in the marketplace.
Take social marketing experts (e.g., Facebook and Twitter). They couldn’t have adopted this niche more than a few years ago because social marketing didn’t exist.
And many graphic designers of print materials made the leap to website design as clients requested online work.
Others adapt their niche to different industries, specific branches of the same industry or certain target audiences identified either by demographics or less obvious psychographics.
Redefining our niches is generally a positive move, keeping our businesses vital and keeping our “magic” alive.