When we talk about a niche, this is one of those lessons that you already “know” but probably aren’t following, or at least to the extent you can. I love speaking deeper on topics people are already familiar with because we save time by me not having to prove the concept. I’ll prove it anyway just to build more leverage on you to follow through.
When slow or no growth companies ask me for help, my first task is to identify all the anchors, bottlenecks, and/or dead ends that are currently preventing growth from happening.
Anchors: Something that is holding you back or weighing you down. This can be anything- a limiting belief, bad employees, a terrible product, or even an entire department that is working against your growth. Getting rid of an anchor is addition by subtraction.
Bottlenecks: This is when you have a process or a path to growth but it’s limited in some way. What you need to do here is open things up. Picture reducing traffic by opening more lanes. You want to increase the capacity, increase the bandwidth, and allow things to flow more freely (people, information, communication, etc.).
Dead Ends: Exactly what they sound like, this is when the current path you have will not take you to the desired destination. A road or new pathway must be built in order to get you to where you need to be.In the task of identifying these growth killers, the very first place I look is to see if the company chose a niche to operate in or not. Like clockwork, the companies that are slow to grow are usually the ones that never chose a niche to dominate, and the reason for this comes out of a fear that they may alienate other business that falls outside that market. In turn they try to be all things to all people, eventually becoming nothing to anyone. The easiest way to prove the importance to you is to ask who you would choose if you needed heart surgery. Would you go to your general practitioner or a heart surgeon? Let’s try something less dramatic. Say there’s a dispute over your product name and now there’s a possible trademark infringement litigation. And, as luck would have it, at the same time you are in the process of going through a divorce and you need to hire an attorney. Would you go to the same person? Probably not. Chances are you would look for the best intellectual property attorney you can find (best can be defined as best for you), and the divorce attorney that best meets your needs as well. In fact, if someone told you that they had a lot of experience in both matters, it would most likely make you question their competence in both areas.
One Niche at a Time
The proactive approach is to choose a niche and go down the line piercing through that market. The top 1% in all categories go deep, rookies go wide. We’ll touch more on this later. The big fear everyone has is that they’ll miss opportunities that fall outside their market so I’m often asked “what if this additional business outside my niche finds me, while I’m hunting for the business that falls in my niche?” I’ll double down and caution you that anything outside your expertise requires you to learn which requires more of your time and that time is expensive. Getting involved in markets that are outside your wheelhouse will require you to move much slower and this extra time will cost you more revenue in comparison to sticking to your niche. Obviously in some cases it may be irresponsible for you to turn away business so in those cases do what you must. But throughout the process, think about what it will cost you in time to actually get the business and deliver the best possible product/service flawlessly. Anything less will cost you.
The good news is that once you’ve dominated your market there are many different markets to expand into. You can go one-by-one, dominating each space until you’ve officially conquered the world. But until you’ve dominated one market, it wouldn’t make sense to waste the effort just being a drop in another bucket. You can now see how each effort can compound the effects if you build on and use all of the previous efforts before you. Each case study, testimonial, reference, or industry award can be used to further dominate more of that specific market. Social proof mounts until you are recognized by everyone as the leader in that space. In a world full of generalists, you’ll be a specialist. And just like outdated methods of mass marketing, your competitors will still be using the antiquated approach of mass appeal, never appealing to anyone.
Get Help Narrowing Your Focus
If you’re having trouble deciding which path to go down, ask a friend, mentor, or advisor to follow an exercise that will help you find the answer. They should ask you questions like:
What’s your first instinct?
Where are your biggest clients?
What industry do you have the most experience in?
What market needs your services the most?
What type of companies would you have the most impact on?
Why… why… why…
At MindStorm we have a very strong process for this and we also research the size of the markets you’re considering so that you can make an educated decision. If you’d like to try this exercise with one of our experienced consultants, schedule a strategy session by calling 1-844-MINDSTORM
About the Author:
George Athan helps B2B companies grow faster by implementing predictable systems to get more clients. He’s been a Strategic Adviser to many CEO’s across the United States, and a regular guest on business podcasts to share his expertise as a business growth expert. Athan believes that business owners and executives can save years of the learning curve by modeling the strategies of today’s fastest growing companies. His mission is to help bring those strategies to exciting and innovative companies.