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Why finding a niche can bring you more business and pleasure?

Since I drafted this article Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, has died of pancreatic cancer. At only 56 his life was short but what an incredible legacy he left behind. I have been a devoted Apple fan since 1993 and the products from the Mac classic to the iPhone have brought style, fun, amazing capability and huge enjoyment to my life.

Apple did niche marketing on a global scale and created a community of devotees who are so much more to the company than just customers. The success of the company in recent years and the zeal of its customers is tribute to the company's ability to position itself as cool, cutting edge, utterly desirable and yet somehow still rebellious and anti-establishment (despite being a global behemoth). That's a heck of a niche.

What is a niche?
A niche for your business is that place where you fit comfortably and your small but dedicated followers or customers will feel perfectly at home. The word comes from the French 'niched' - to make a nest. For small owner managed businesses, finding your niche can have a dramatic and exceptionally, positive effect on your business and your life.

Specialist versus general
Without a niche, you tend to cast your net too wide. By trying to appeal to everyone you end up appealing to no-one. You know this is true. If you wanted to set up a poultry enterprise and were looking for advice, who would you call? The general farm adviser or the poultry specialist? No contest (by the way you can find a very good poultry adviser at The Welsh Poultry Centre).

How combining your passion with your expertise can help you find a niche
Dave Jelley of Jelley Legs, featured in last Saturday's Travel Guardian, is a shining example of a niche business.

A physiotherapist, he offers fell running holidays in the Yorkshire Dales for those new to fell running or seasoned runners with "running issues". Throw in expert running advice with delicious organic vegetarian cooking and the result is the ideal holiday for a very specific group of people.

Having a retired physio mother and a low level running habit of my own plus spending two years in York, I guess the article was bound to catch my eye. So I called Dave up to find out how it was going. The guided running mainly attracts women so he is keen to find beginners or advanced runners who want to try or develop fell running. As he said, "you wouldn't generally go out sailing without instruction, so why not help your running by getting tips from an expert with beautiful surroundings thrown in?"

For Dave his own love of running has combined with his professional expertise to create a niche business that makes him stand out from all the other B&Bs in the area and gives him huge personal fulfillment.

More ways to combine passion and expertise.

  • A solicitor interested in horses - equine legal specialist
  • Mum bringing up children with allergies - gluten free bakery range
  • Photographer interested in rugby - touchline photographic courses for parents
  • Farmer interested in astronomy - star gazing courses (accommodation in local B&Bs)

Don't you need to be in business for a while before you specialise?
Being specialised is more about narrowing your field of activity than about the number of years experience you have. Once you narrow your field you will automatically become more focused in your learning and soon in your experience. If you can specialise right at the start it makes all your promotion decisions easier e.g. where to advertise, who to follow in social media and which key phrases to use

There's nothing like doing business with people who share your passion. Once you find your niche, just like a nest, it should feel like home. What's your niche?


Contributor: Juliet Fay @

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