Small Business: Discovering Niches for Growth

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

I thank David Wayne for the question:

HOW do you suggest a small business owner discover niche opportunities for growth (to minimise the costly, irrelevant errors that follow trials), or ways to position or brand themselves in their market that differentiate them from competitors who on the face of it would appear to be offering similar services (small business process design and training)?

How to discover niches for growth? I watch for “opportunities”. They abound, they are everywhere, and the really good ones are simple and usually right in front of your nose. An example would be the amazing opportunities as a result of globalisation – like odesk.com etc (go in and “surf” the blue links). I then “glue in my mind” a new or better business strategy from the combination of several opportunities.

Now for the bummer. Around 20 of my “bright ideas” crash and burn to the every one that works. I’ve NEVER been clever enough to develop viable solutions straight up. I’ve only ever been clever enough to do more of “what I’ve proven works” – so I NEVER “assume”. The message is – do NOT sit with me and build a structured business plan around our ideas – because it’s probably one of the 20 flawed ones – BUT do find a way to “test” the critical aspects of the concept, in an affordable way (usually this is checking the customers reaction) before stretch your cash flow in the venture.

Using oDesk I’ve been known to build a $60 web site under “another name” to test the consumers “will they buy it” reaction.

Critical to every GROWTH business – is to be “different” (Purple Cow by Seth Godin is a must). I struggle with this, particularly in MiniMovers at present, where several alternative services are presently snapping at our heals. The only comment I can really make is – why you are different changes and evolves. When this stops (like if you tried to corporatize) then you will start to fall behind.

The mantra of small business – “change is a constant” welcome it.

Check out the notes I use when coaching start-up businesses at mikeohagan.com

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