Most of the time when people launch a new business, they’re feeding off of a lot of excitement on their quest for elusive (but so, so satisfying) self-made success. But when the time comes to slow down and take that small business to the next level, it can be really hard to sift through all the conflicting advice about how to grow.
One thing we love to preach (because it works, and it’s something we’re obsessed with) is establishing a niche market. This lets your business start doing what you do best as a dominant player in your niche.
Of course, the problem is actually finding the best niche for you. It’s a struggle for many of our clients (to be fair, it’s a really big decision), so we’ve put together a list of the three most important steps you can take to narrow down your ideal niche.
1. Find the things you’re passionate about.
We know it probably sounds obvious, running a business gets much harder when you’re doing something you don’t really care about. Trust us, loving what you do for a living—and more importantly, loving to learn more about what you do—is one thing that can keep a business running.
If you haven’t already, take some time to jot down a list of 10-15 ideas or areas you’re truly passionate about. These should be things that make you want to stick with your work even when it’s hard.
Move the brainstorming process along with some of our favorite questions for niche-seekers:
- What do you look forward to doing in your free time?
- What kinds of things would you do even if you weren’t paid to do them?
- What’s your area of training or education? What special skills do you have?
- What topics do you like to learn about?
- What organizations or groups do you belong to?
2. Decide if the market is big enough.
Once you’ve come up with a list of ideas, the next step is to determine whether there’s an audience large enough for your business. After all, you aren’t looking for a new hobby; you’re looking for a fulfilling niche that also pays.
To learn about the market size, do some basic keyword research. Google’s Keyword Tool is invaluable here; it’s free, and it can help you learn more about the words and phrases your potential niche might search for.
There are a few things we always advise you to keep an eye on. If the keywords you’ve entered get a search volume of under 1,000 per month, the market probably isn’t large enough. Also, the higher the suggested bids, the better, as higher bids mean those keywords make more money in general.
3. See what your competitors are doing.
Competition is helpful: it keeps businesses at their best, and in terms of finding your niche, it also can be a sign that you’ve chosen a great niche market. To see for yourself what the competition is like, try Googling your chosen keywords.
Is the niche oversaturated by well-known brands? That’s a problem, because it means there’s probably too much competition for you to carve out a segment of this niche.
Do the search results show that few or no sites pop up for your keywords? That’s a potential problem as well, since it could mean there’s no market for those search terms. (Alternatively, it might mean you’ve hit on a great opportunity, so take this with a grain of salt!)
Ideally, you’ll find that the search results are somewhere in between both of these options: there are some sites matching your keyword, meaning there’s a market available, but those sites offer low-quality content and aren’t big brand names. This means it’s just the right amount of competition, which could be pretty lucrative for you.
There’s no guarantee these steps will help you find the best niche for your business, but they should at least give you an idea of how to get started. Dive deep into your passions and your industry, and figure out how to solve the problems your audience most needs help with.