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Big Fish in a Small Pond has greater business success

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Big Fish in a Small Pond has greater business success


Just as in the corporate world, specialists command higher salaries compared to generalists, in business, it pays to focus on delivering a specific service for people who would pay to have it.

Whether you’re planning to create a service based business as a consultant, coach, therapist, accountant or tax advisor, you need to be crystal clear on

Who you will serve, i.e. who are your potential buyers and

What you will serve i.e. the service or product that you will provide


Ebooks, webinars and teleclasses will definitely show you the how to do it but the actual information has to come from you and what you resonate with. That is what makes you and your business unique.

Admittedly, one of these elements may be more important than the other based on the service that you intend to provide but take it from me; they both merit your attention. It’s more a case of deciding which element you will address first. After that you’ll work out the logistics or the How.

For example, if you are planning to start a tarot reading business, the delivery element may be important because you already know that you will be serving anyone who needs a tarot reading (Who) and you will be doing tarot readings (What). The area that will require attention is How – will it be online or offline? Where will you do the readings? At home, in a rented office space or meet clients at a coffee shop?

But if you are an accountant, then you might have to focus more on your What first. Are you a generalist bookkeeper? Do you have a specialized skill like Income or corporate tax, VAT returns, mergers & acquisitions, specific accounting standards? In such a case, the What will determine Who you will be serving and then, like the Tarot Reading service provider, you’ll have to figure out the How in terms of process and delivery.

Once you’ve unearthed your true blue WHY for wanting to go into business, it’s time to decide how you intend to make your impact on the world through your business services while achieving self-actualization and expressing your spirituality through the vehicle of your business.


Big Fish in a small pond or Small Fish in a big pond?


Who wants to be a small fish in a big pond in business?


Nobody wants to fail in achieving their cherished dream. To improve your chances of success, you need to be clear on your target market and niche. It helps if you can get as specific as possible because that will allow you to focus your energy and attention in 1 area rather than spreading yourself thin.

It’s natural when we are starting out that we want to help everyone and perhaps, if you have never been in business, you may be scared to refuse a client because you need to bring in the dough to pay the bills.

That’s understandable.

All heart-based entrepreneurs feel the same until they realize that in their effort to save the world, they’ll need to be saved from bankruptcy and debt and then, the real business of building a business starts.

Of course you can always help the world, if it’s really important. I’ve done it on occasion. Like the time when a potential Who’s child had dropped out of college and intervention was required. But this should be one-offs when your Soul says you need to step in and be of service, not a regular feature.

Last weekend, I was catching up with a coaching colleague after almost a year. When we last spoke, I had suggested that he zero in on his real passion and expertise and then find a way to save the very world that was part of his Why.

In the years that have followed, he has shifted from coaching young professionals to retirees. As a retired person who had an eminent career, he is best suited to do retirement coaching to professionals who are either settling into retirement or about to enter the retirement world. He’s clear on is Who and What and he pursues his passion of helping younger professionals through workshops and training.

It didn’t happen overnight though. When we first met, he wanted to help every professional in the world and had no clients. His target market, or the Who was too vague. He was a generalist coach with the What of just coaching.

Now he has clients because he is perceived as a specialist. His Who and What are crystal clear and in the process he has become a big fish in a small pond.

Sadly, this is the same mistake that many business owners make when they are first starting their business is that they do not focus on a specific market. Many helping professionals find it difficult to hone in on a specific market because they feel they can help everybody. And therefore choosing a target market feels limiting. But choosing a target market does not limit you at all. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Choosing a specific market to focus on opens you up to even more opportunities and success.

Frankly speaking, who wants to be a small fish in a big pond when you can be a big fish in a small pond?

People who are ready to invest in services will want an expert, not a jack of all trades. Tell me, if you are planning to buy a house, what kind of a lawyer would you choose? A generalist who may not know all the real estate laws or one who has specialized in property and real estate law and who can make sure that you do become the legal owner of the residence?

Even my electrician knows the difference and yes, while he does provide me with services that aren’t complicated like changing light bulbs and filling the inverter with battery water, he sticks to his expertise in wiring and switches. He won’t dream of working on my television or fridge (not that I would let him). He’s a big fish in a small pond who has decided his target market or Who is the homeowner who need electrical services for the house.


The Basics of Target Market and Niche

Now that we’ve understood why Who and What is important let’s bring in some business lingo – Target Market and Niche.

Target Market is the Who you serve – the specific group of people on whom you are focusing your services.

For example, my colleague whom I mentioned earlier who is focused on baby boomers who are preparing for retirement or have just retired and need support for this specific change in life. My own example of helping senior professionals, especially women professionals who have hit a career plateau and are looking for solutions which also includes assessing the idea of becoming self-employed.

Niche is the What you do for your clients. In plain English, the solution or specific service that you provide which gives a specific result, benefit or solves a specific problem.

My colleague helps his clients figure out what they want to do in their retirement years and works with them to find their own unique solution while I help my clients assess the exact nature of the roadblock, the typical ‘something is missing even though I have it all’ and then work with them to find the right solution for them. My electrician helps with the wiring and making sure that the fuse panels work.


Knowing your Target Market for business


When you know your target market, it becomes easier to create your business. It helps you focus on

  • Product and service creation
  • Messaging that speaks to your true clients
  • Your marketing efforts

When you first start your business, you might have tons of ideas of who your target market is. I suggest that you explore further and select one to start with. You can always change your target market, contract or expand it later as you learn more about the people whom you wish to serve.

In addition to determining the demographics of your target market like their gender, age, life stage, vocation et cetera, I recommend you also consider 4 things about yourself

  • Why am I attracted to this market? (Remember the big WHY?)
  • Who am I passionate about serving?
  • What knowledge and skills do I bring to this market?
  • Who can benefit most from my knowledge and service?


When you have all these answers, you’ll be closer to identifying your WHO and Target Market that your business will serve.

Now that you have a Target Market, let’s look at what you can do for your clients, your Niche.

We can do lots of things for our clients!

The question is what do we do best and that will be of utmost value?


Dog asking business niche questions


When you are working for yourself, you need to make sure that you enjoy doing what you do because there won’t be a boss on top of you to keep you accountable.

So even if you are multi-talented, stick to one area of expertise to start with. The one that makes you shine and makes the biggest difference.

Don’t be scared of losing out on customers because you really cannot serve the entire world. But you can make a difference and that too a big one for your target market members that need you the most. They are the ones who will pay you to solve their problems.

So when choosing a niche, ask yourself 3 questions

  1. What do I love?
  2. What am I great at?
  3. What do people want and need that they are willing to pay for?


For example, a tax specialist could have a niche where he/she loves strategic planning (what he loves) for tax planning (what he’s great at) to help clients save tax money (what his target market wants and is willing to pay for).

An interior decorator could have a niche where she applies her creative thinking (what she loves) to matching color schemes and furniture for small apartments (what she’s good at) to create unique home interiors that are elegant yet comfortable (what her target market wants and is willing to pay for).

Your turn now, what would you rather be, a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?



PS. There are other questions for which you need to have clear answers before starting a business. Click the image below to find out more.


5 things to get clear on before starting a business




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16 Responses to “Big Fish in a Small Pond has greater business success”

  1. Reba Linker says:

    I had to share 2 of your fab pins to my “Soulful Business” Pinterest page. I have to admit that I have not conquered this ‘niche’ concept. I am waiting for a divine revelation – that is a viable business strategy, isn’t Vatsala? I sure hope so! Ok, I’m just being silly – I am not forcing the issue and am waiting to see what evolves. Evolution can take quite some time, tho. Mmmm. I’ll keep thinking about it – and you keep writing about it, please! xo, Reba

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks for sharing the pins, Reba. The ultimate compliment to my efforts to find the right Hero Image, which in this case is a fish. 🙂 Divine Revelation can be a viable business strategy and listening to one’s intuition helps to niche down or even find the right niche where we make our biggest impact and difference. For example, when I started Karmic Ally Coaching, my niche was Stress Management for my Target Market but the more I coached, the more I realized that stress was a symptom of a bigger issue and my niche changed. I still offer Stress Management coaching but the actual niche is Career and Business Transition Coaching because that is another step that many of my clients start to consider.

  2. Natasha Botkin says:

    I am in a process of understanding my ideal client and what that all means. Xoxo

    • Karmic Ally says:

      That’s one of the best journeys we can take, Natasha. The beauty of trying to understand your ideal client is that we often understand more about ourselves. Best of luck!

  3. Tamuria says:

    Your posts are always so helpful Vatsala. I know I really need to work on determining my target market and niche for my blog if it’s ever going to become a money making venture. When I was running my arts and crafts school for kids I found it really hard to stay focused on my target market sometimes, wanting to help everyone, even those in age groups I didn’t cater for.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks for the compliment, Tamuria. Heart-centered caring service professionals have that problem because our creative minds allow us to see all possibilities rather than hone in on one. Reading your blog posts, I see a parenting market and niche. You are much closer to becoming a big fish in small pond than you know!

  4. Having always been a generalist who loves helping as many people as possible, I get that it is important to be focused, now that the entire world seems to be an ‘expert’ at something. I see how in the online world everyone seems to be an expert, and yet the challenge for us all, is to stand out from everyone else.

    Yes, I would much rather be a big fish in a small pond and I think in some industries, this is probably easier than in others. It seems like we have to specialize and niche market our offerings and yet for me, that is always the biggest challenge. Thanks, as always Vatsala, for sharing your expertise and your own experiences to offer us some new insights at looking at our own business.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Niching down when we are spiritually inclined is a challenge, Beverley, because our Inner GPS says we are meant to help the world and not a specific subset of humanity. I’ve often faced that challenge and the best way is to accept that there are going to be one-off services provided to people outside of our target market and niche which will make a difference.

      Yet, when we know our market and niche, our marketing becomes focused and we attract more qualified leads and prospects rather than people whom we would never be able to serve because their needs are too general or they don’t know yet what they really want.

      Funnily enough, we often have a target market and niche but don’t realize it!

  5. I would definitely rather be a big fish in a small pond. This is a question I gave a lot of thought to when I first began writing. I have a marketing and PR background, so I’ve done the big flashy “dog and pony” shows in conjunction with past corporate jobs, but it’s simply not me. I love that my readers feel comfortable emailing me with their stories, especially when they share that something I’ve written has spurred them to make meaningful change.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      It makes sense to niche down to a service where we have specialist skills Marquita, but and this is a big but, what makes our heart sing? Once we know that, we can repackage our skills to do work that makes us happy and in the process make others happier too.

  6. Alexis says:

    Thanks for this! It’s something I’ve dealt with in the past (I *think* I’ve finally gotten down to where I’m meant to be) and it took a serious process to drill down. Always a good reminder to stick to the right pond!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      The magic action – drill down. You’ve nailed the process that we heart-centered business owners not only need to do but to revisit every time we feel misaligned. Our business’s grow and transform as we transform. Definitely need to stick to the right pond, Alexis. 🙂

  7. I have a product that one might say, “All women can wear our jewelry”. But we did drill down, created 3 personas & have our target. We have found them only they are admirers, not shoppers.
    Great article covering so many important factors.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience and observations, Roslyn. Knowing and finding one’s target market and niche is important. Sometimes, the admirers turn shoppers when there is a specific need for your jewelry, which is very eclectic. Selling has its challenges but it happens in due course of time.

  8. Suzie Cheel says:

    Yes I would much prefer to be a big fish in a small pond and how timely was your post after writing mine last Friday. I know with my changes I am getting closer to doing each day what makes my heart sing and helping my niche have their heart singing too.
    I have found this part of my biz quite a challenge,

    Thanks for your wisdom xxoo

    • Karmic Ally says:

      It was a coincidence, wasn’t it, Suzie? When I read your post last week, I thought wow, this is the series I’m creating right now! 🙂 Finding the right niche is a challenge when we want to give to the world and yet, as they say, water finds its own level and we often find our niche when we relax and go with the flow. I’m so glad you’ve found yours!

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Meet your coach

I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who’ve hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that deliver results.

When my clients first reach out to me, they are not in a very happy place, needing clarity about themselves, their desires, chosen vocation and what will give them peace of mind. They are drawn to me for the very reasons that I highlight in Who Is Karmic Ally Coaching.

Their professional problems are playing havoc with other areas of their life. They know they need to take radical steps to change the status quo but they also know they need support and accountability to get them their desired result.

I really get it, because I’ve experienced that dark night of the Soul. I know firsthand the outcome of getting lost in my work rationalizing decisions that were detrimental to other aspects of my life.

I’ve struggled with and won battles of stress management, corporate politics, life balance and career decisions to emerge in a place where I can confidently say that I live my desired life according to my personal Manifesto and have created a business that provides me with a platform for my desired lifestyle and self-expression for myself. I want that for you too!

I adhere to the Certified Coaches Alliance Code of Ethics and Standards. A copy is available on request.
1st place BCB 2012
Email: Vatsala(at)karmicallycoaching(dot)com Phone:91 9818517664
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