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?
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.
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.
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?
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
- What do I love?
- What am I great at?
- 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.
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