…And an interesting one at that.
My observation is that we need to do both.
Here’s how I’ve arrived at that conclusion.
One of the most difficult challenges for talented people, who are trying to make their mark in life, is how to set themselves apart from their competitors. Many of these people are at the helm of a small business; toughing it out with larger companies who have access to more of everything.
The antidote to that situation is to become a specialist and really focus in on what you do best. You genuinely can do more with less – and quicker; whilst larger companies are hampered by the very things that gave them a leg up in the first place.
NICHE SKILL: You may decide that it’s the winning combination of skills you possess that make a great niche. Shakespeare was not known as an innovator – he didn’t introduce new forms of writing as others did. Nor was he an originator – he used existing sources for his material. However, he was known as a ‘master of words’. So, consider if there’s one particular skill that trumps all others and make the most of that.
NICHE PRODUCT: Perhaps you have become an authority on a particular product or service area that meets a targeted set of requirements. Shakespeare’s first published works were poems and these alone would have carved a niche in literature; they are unusual in their format as compared with other sonnets.
NICHE AUDIENCE: It could be that your client audience consists of a select group of people with a specific need for what you have to offer. Shakespeare has become both the property of everyone and of niche audiences, having arrived in the class room, the theatre and at home.
NICHE MARKET: Once you have a market that is an ‘inch wide and a mile deep’ you will know exactly what solution your clients need and how to reach them. To mark Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, YouGov looked at which of his plays are the most popular with people today. To do this they categorised each play as ‘Mainstream’, ‘Popular’, ‘Niche’ or ‘Underground’ based on how many or how few people have read or seen them. No surprises for guessing that Romeo and Juliet tops the list. However, King Lear – arguably one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies – is classed as ‘niche’ with only 17 per cent of people having read or seen it. Remember, 17% of the entire population is an awesome return.
Once you have a niche that is clearly defined – and a proven track record of delivering specialist services to a select market – you can then re-surface with an understanding of what differentiates your business from all the others in your field. That then provides you with a platform for growth and the leeway to generalise again should you wish.