Finding Your Niche Market



By Marie-Therese Phido

Many of us struggle to find our niche. This can be in determining what our careers should be or what type of business we should do. I know people who have tried everything. The owner of a popular school in Lagos (name withheld), explored many businesses before she finally settled on a school.

At first, she sold women’s clothes, the usual buying and selling that many women go into. She then set up a restaurant. I am sure her thinking was – women will always buy clothes so it will be lucrative and for the restaurant, people will always eat.

But for her, these two businesses were not successful. She then started a crèche in her house. This crèche morphed into a nursery school, a primary school and a secondary school. She has since been able to replicate this school in different locations in Lagos. I heard a few days ago, that she has opened a branch in another part of Nigeria.

She clearly found her niche, in making money and doing what comes naturally to her. Many of us go into businesses we do not have a natural affinity for and start to struggle. This lady friend of mine above could not make any headway buying and selling while many friends of mine can sell snow to an Eskimo, while keeping down a demanding full time job.
It is important to note that if the next person is doing it, it does not mean we can do it too! Many businessmen and women have discovered that it is not easy to just copy the next man but to carefully consider your niche.

There is no doubt that one of the clearest ways to success is finding a niche market and establishing yourself as a dominant player. This is because no matter how many businesses there are, there are always going to be larger segments of the population whose needs for particular products and/or services are going unmet, leaving room for us to dominate the markets we decide on.

How can you find your niche market:
• First and foremost, identify your interests and passion. Business can be very challenging, there is a higher likelihood of you quitting, if you are not doing something you enjoy doing. I am not saying that it should be a perfect fit. The thing is, if you are not doing something you enjoy doing, you are not likely to succeed in the long run. It should be something you have a passion for, not because everybody is doing it and people are saying this is the “business for the season”.

If you are doing something you do not have a passion for, you may not have the drive to make it succeed. For example, I may not succeed if I set up a school for young children. No matter how profitable it will be, it is unlikely to work for me because I prefer to teach adults and not children. If it is a vocational school to empower women and teach sales and marketing, I will be passionate about and it and have the passion and drive to execute it as it is one of my life’s ambitions.

• After you have determined that you have passion for your niche market, make sure there are enough people in your niche market to patronise your products. You cannot for example, start to package fura (hausa drink) in Lagos and expect to make as much money as you would make in Kaduna or Kano. You need to decide that whatever products you decide on will have a ready market.

• Ensure there aren’t too many players in your niche market. My observation is that once we notice or see a business making money in a particular area, we all jump in and start to do the same thing. I observed this situation when water in satchets (pure water) first came into the market. The manufacturers were happy and felt it was profitable. Now everybody has gone into the business and they are all complaining because too many people are in the same business crowding each other out with very little differentiation.

• It is important to find out about competition to see if a new business in this niche will be viable. Study your competition. It is noteworthy to understand it is sometimes good to have competition, although some will see it as a problem. When we have competition, it helps us determine that we have found a profitable niche. What will then need to work on is how to differentiate ourselves to put us on top of the pack.

• Make sure the business is profitable. Browse top products in the area you are deciding on to determine whether there is demand for the product or service. If there are no offers or demand, it may not be a good sign. It may mean that nobody has been able to monetise the idea. You may want to spend some more time researching your service or product.

• Have a well-defined internet marketing strategy in determining your niche market. Your website must be optimised to ensure that your niche market can easily find you. Develop your site in a way that the solutions and products you offer are specific to the problems in your niche market. Use social media sites to advertise and boost your offerings by specifying the advertising criteria that suits your market.

It is important to find and determine your niche because it gives you competitive advantage over the next business especially if you have done your homework well. We should try not to be in the same market and if we are, ours should have a twist. The fact that someone else is in a particular business does not mean it will work for us. We need to discover our passion and find the “sweet spot” that is ours to own. Spend some time asking yourself these questions before you embark on a new project:

• How can I differentiate myself from competition?
• What are the “new things” that I can bring into the market?
• What will be different about the products and services I will offer?
Answers to the bullets and the consideration of the points above, will take your business to the next level. Good luck!

– Marie-Therese Phido is Sales & Market Strategist and Business Coach
tweeter handle @osat2012; TeL: 08090158156 (text only)