The number one mistake small business owners make is failing to niche effectively.
Niching is simple, but not always easy. Why do we fail to niche, when many of us have at least a rough idea of how important it is?
One word : Fear.
We are afraid to niche because niching, at its core, is about saying NO.
Niching is about setting boundaries around ourselves and our business, and let’s face it – for many of us – the thought of setting boundaries makes us break out in hives.
It doesn’t – can’t – be this way. Niching is too powerful a tool to be afraid of.
Are you afraid to niche?
Maybe you think niching will limit you. You don’t like the idea of being hemmed in or nailed down.
- Maybe you’re a multi passionate entrepreneur and you don’t want to be pigeon holed. (No one puts baby in the corner.)
- Maybe you are just starting out and you don’t want to turn away business.
- Maybe you believe that old lie that the customer is always right.
- Maybe you don’t want to say NO.
- Maybe you just want to do all the things, serve all the people, make all the money.
All of these things are natural and normal thoughts, especially when you are just starting out. (Or if you’ve been listening to hustle culture girl bosses who tell you if you’re not doing all the things, you aren’t working hard enough.)
This isn’t about avoiding hard work though.
Niching is about being mindful and intentional with our time, effort and attention – all of which are finite resources.
Why should you niche?
You should niche, even if you think it’s limiting, because just like in art – limits breed creativity and beauty.
Tough love time. You can’t be all the things to all the people. You just can’t. Nor should you want to.
On the contrary, you want the fast track to burnout?
Keep tugging at that thread.
Moving in a million directions at once is the best way to swamp yourself in overwhelm, decision fatique and stress.
Great niching makes your business sing
I’ve run an incredibly narrowly niched business for 10 years now.
I have a super limited product offering, work seasonally and only serve amazing humans in a limited geographic region – no jerks allowed. I don’t ship. Don’t do farmer’s markets. Only open 8 hours per week. And on and on and on.
The result is my business and I are both thriving.
I get to serve a community of amazing human beings doing work that I both enjoy and feel passionate about.
Over the years, I through relentless niching, I have winnowed down both what I do and who I serve to craft a work life that is integrated with and nourishing of my home life, my health and my values.
What would your work life look like if your customer base was made up of folks who were your biggest cheerleaders?
Not just fans of your work, but fans of YOU as a person? Who regularly express heartfelt gratitude for the impact you make in their lives?
What if your work lit you up? Challenged you? Gave you a sense of purpose? Nourished your spirit as well as your pocketbook? Changed your little corner of the world?
Claiming a sense of clarity of direction underpins all of that, and you can gain that clarity through intentional, mindful niching.
Stop thinking about niching as a limiting activity. Think of it as freeing.
One of my key Slow Living skills is to look for one decision that can eliminate countless future decisions.
Decision fatigue is REAL people.
No matter what you do, how streamlined you are – you will still battle decision fatigue. Give yourself a fighting chance. Eliminate some big choices off the top.
Not everything you love to do has to be part of your money making schemes.
It is OK to have passions and hobbies that exist for no reason other than sheer joy, relaxation or personal satisfaction.
It’s ok to be into lots of different things.
It’s NOT ok to chuck everything AND the kitchen sink into your business and expect it to make sense to your customers.
You can have diversity in your work and business AND still be well niched
Think niching will condemn you to a life of repetitive drudgery?
You can be well-niched and still have a joyful amount of diversity in your work and your work day.
I have a deeply niched business, but I have lots of different things that I do under that tightly woven cover.
My mission is : Nourish. Advocate. Educate. Inspire.
I run a business rooted in regenerative agriculture, good food, community and a spirit of joyful rebellion.
I meet my mission by:
- Growing organic fruit and veggies
- Raising animals
- Running my brick and mortar farm store
- Growing and selling seedlings
- Teaching workshops in organic gardening, soap making, chicken keeping, preserving
- Writing about all the things encompassed by my work – gardening, regenerative agriculture, seed security, heirloom veggies, sustainability, voluntary simplicity, slowness and more
- Making products to use the waste and byproducts from the farm : soap, candles, wool etc.
- Engaging my customers in activism within our community
- Educating my audience about agriculture, climate change etc. via my weekly newsletter
- Connecting with my Farm Family on a human level
That’s a pretty diverse set of activities there, right? But they are all tightly related and they all share the same targeted customer base.
You are not your business
We get a bit confused here, I think. We think that because we want to build a heart-centred slow business that our business somehow has to include every facet of who we are.
You are a rare flower, girl! You are varied and complex and full of depth and contradictions. Your business can’t possibly encompass all your awesome. Don’t try to force it!
Uncouple your personal identity from your business and brand.
This is good for both your business and your mental health.
Need some inspiration there? Read this little ditty I wrote to remind you : You Are Not a Brand.
Ready to niche but don’t know where to start?
Listen, I get it. Niching can be overwhelming. Most of us are so deep into our own businesses that it can be hard to get enough distance to find clarity.
If you are ready to niche your business mindfully and intentionally, informed by Slow values, I’ve put together a program especially for you.
Don’t worry, its not another course you’ll open once and never finish.
Niching Without Fear is a gentle, nourishing audio workshop designed for intuitive entrepreneurs and heart centred creatives just like you.
- No videos to sit through.
- No yacking over PowerPoints.
- No big workbooks or homework assignments to fall behind on.
Just a series of mindfully curated audio coaching sessions designed to help you ask more beautiful questions of both yourself and your business, gain some clarity and take concrete steps to move forward with your business in a more focused, intentional way.