“Identify your niche and dominate it. And when I say dominate, I just mean work harder than anyone else could possibly work at it.” –Nate Parker
When we’re in the midst of change—for instance, when we’re between careers—sometimes our default instinct is to become “all things to all people.” This is particularly true of entrepreneurs and startup businesses who are new and “hungry.” The idea is that the more products and services you offer, the wider your target market becomes, and the more likely you are to find people to do business with. We feel like the wider we cast our net, the more fish we’ll catch.
However, I’d like to propose an alternate way of thinking, one that is espoused by many of the world’s most successful people: Instead of broadening your scope—narrow it down. If you’re starting a business, instead of trying to meet everyone’s needs within your market, find a niche within that market. If you’re seeking a job, rather than positioning yourself as a good all-around employee for a prospective company, focus on a skillset that most employees don’t offer—something the company needs and will pay premium wages for.
In other words…find a way to specialize.
Why Having a Niche Generates More Success
You’d think this principle would have the opposite effect of generating fewer opportunities for you, rather than more—but statistics show otherwise. In fact, people working within a niche tend to thrive better than the rest, as long as the niche is something people want and need. Here’s why it works:
- Your quality of work increases. The old “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” adage applies here. If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll inevitably be unable to provide a decent level of quality across all those verticals, and you’ll become lost in a sea of mediocrity. By contrast, if you focus only on a select number of services (preferably in line with your passions), you’ll do work that outshines your competition, and people will take notice.
- You attract only the type of customers or employers you want. Going back to the fishing analogy…casting a wide net might get you more fish initially, but you’ll also catch a lot of junk you don’t want or need. Think of your niche as choosing a certain type of fish, then crafting a bait perfect for attracting that type of fish. Put that perfect bait in the water, and you’ll catch only the kind of fish you want—and you’ll yank them out of the water all day long.
- Specializing puts you in greater demand. When you try to offer all possible services within your particular market, you basically become like everyone else in your market, competing for the same type of people and maybe landing a few. If you can find a certain specialty that no one else in your area offers, then everyone in your area who needs your service will line up at your door because you’re the only place to get that product or service. (And as you probably already have noticed…specialists can charge more for their special service, as well.)
It’s true that when you specialize, you may have fewer people who need what you offer; but if all of those people come to you as the go-to person for that product or service, you’re still doing more business and making more money than all the other general practitioners out there. If you are the only person in your area who does a certain type of work, and more than one company needs that specialty—you can practically write your own paycheck. That’s the power of finding a niche.
If you’re in a place of change with regard to your career, now is the perfect opportunity to look for ways to carve out a niche for yourself. In the next post, I’ll share some personal experiences on this topic and offer some helpful tips to guide you on your search for your own unique specialty.