More Than WE Know

Women Entrepreneurs sharing Information, Inspiration and Support

Entrepreneurs Should Go Small to Grow Big

Posted by Liz Fuller on August 19, 2007

stand-out-from-crowd.jpgAs entrepreneurs we all want to have as many customers as possible, help as many people as possible, get as well known as possible, and make as much money as possible. Common sense tells us that the way to do that is to make our services as general as possible – to offer a one size fits all approach in which we attempt to be everything to everyone. But common sense doesn’t always make good business sense.

In my last post, I told you about my friend who went to a networking event only to find that the competition for her services was more intense than she had expected. She was disappointed to meet women who were practically her clones, vying for her very same target market. If she couldn’t differentiate herself from the competition, chances are, neither could her potential customers.


This friend happens to be a life coach to mothers wanting to transition back into the workforce. While this sounds like a good niche, there were several other women at the event targeting the same market. So, as counter-intuitive and downright scary as it sounds, to earn more business, she is going to have to first, turn down business. How does she do that? By further narrowing her niche.

Think about it. If you had a heart problem would you want to go to a family doctor or a cardiac specialist? If you wanted a new dress would you rather go to a department store or a specialty shop? If you wanted an ice cream cone would you rather go to a restaurant or an ice cream shop?

This is the age of specialization. Noted author and economic expert, Chris Anderson, calls it the “Long Tail of business”, in which the future of marketing is selling more of less. What this means to my friend is that instead of trying to sell her services to all mothers transitioning to all types of work, she should take the risk of specializing into a certain niche.


For example, she could create a niche based on the age or circumstance of the children:

  • Mothers pregnant with their first baby who want to keep on working
  • Mothers of preschoolers
  • Mothers of teenagers
  • Mothers of handicapped children
  • Mothers of children with ADD

She could create a niche based on the circumstances of the mother:

  • Single mothers
  • Widowed mothers
  • Step-mothers
  • Married mothers with husbands who also work
  • Married mothers with husbands who stay at home with the kids
  • Mothers with lesbian partners
  • Mothers considering divorce
  • Mothers who are also caring for their aging parents

She could create a niche based on the type of work the mother wants to do:

  • Corporate
  • Self-employment
  • Tele-commuting
  • Home business
  • Or by industry – finance, technology, sales, insurance

The point is that when she tells people what she does, she will suddenly become much more interesting. People she meets will be intrigued as to why she chose that niche and what is unique about it. She will become the expert for her target market. And, people will immediately start to think about who they know who fits into that category. They will be more inclined to recommend her to their friends, because they will like being thought clever enough and thoughtful enough to have found someone who “specializes in people just like you!”

What’s true for my friend the coach, is probably true for you as well whether you are an accountant, a virtual assistant, a sales rep, or a bookstore owner.

So, take another look at your niche. Ask yourself whether it is narrow enough, whether it is strong enough and whether it really identifies who you are and what you bring to the table.

Dare to be known as an expert in your niche. Dare to stand out from all your competition.

Please share your thoughts and concerns about how you developed or are developing your niche –How did you find it? What worked? What didn’t? How satisfied are you with the niche you’ve found? How has it changed your business to have one?


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