A small business typically doesn’t have the resources to make themselves known to the whole wide world.  You have to be very focused and targeted to make sure your message is heard by the right people.  Having a well-defined niche makes it easier to get referrals, better referrals, and of course, more clients. Who doesn’t want more clients?

So what’s a niche anyway?

A niche is an area of expertise that helps you stand out and distinguish you from your competitors. Start with the main business you are in, add who you provide your products/services to, and where your clients are (local, national, global).  Then get as specific as possible about the key problem you solve, your product’s most unique benefits, and the characteristics of the customers who buy from you most readily.

Before deciding on a niche, ask yourself six questions:

Do you have actual expertise in this area?

Are you passionate about it?

Will people understand what it is?

Is it big enough to represent a substantial share of your business?

Is it growing?

How competitive is it?

You need Yes answers to all or most of the first 5 questions.  If the answer to number 6 is “not very”, you’ve got a lion by the tail.  Keep thinking about all the different niches your business touches until you find one that works.

If your niche doesn’t jump right out at you, here are some ways to figure it out.  Make a list of all your projects from the last several years, and analyze these factors:

Which projects did you enjoy the most?

Which clients stayed with you?

Which projects were the most profitable?

Which clients appreciate you the most and send you referrals?

Which problems were you most often asked to solve for your clients?

Which of your products or services are in most demand?

What are your most lucrative sources of referral?

Choose a niche you love, that loves you back.

Finding your niche may be relatively easy if you’re already doing a lot of work in that area, anyway. With a little thought you can come up with right positioning and the right message.  An important thing to remember is that, even with a well-defined niche, you still can continue to serve other markets and provide other services.  But a niche positions you as expert in a particular area, and that makes it a lot easier to get referrals.

You want your clients and colleagues to remember something unique about your business, otherwise they won’t know when to refer you.  Once you’ve found your niche, you’ll know what when people ask you what you do.  You’ll know where to look for your next clients.  You’ll know what networking groups to join and what events to attend.

You may be a small business, but you can be a big fish if you choose the right “small pond”.