We often aspire to achieve global success and riches by studying how entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson and Alan Sugar trod their paths: dedication, hard work, long hours, a little bit of luck… and good ideas. It is rare, however, that a start-up product or service has mass appeal and perhaps, for a speedier step up the ladder, we should concentrate on starting smaller.

Be sufficiently confident in your product or service to limit your marketing to a smaller, receptive target audience. It will be more productive than trying to appeal to everybody, most of whom are unlikely to respond.

For example, if you make ice cream (and nearly everybody likes ice cream) you can play safe and market vanilla flavour to the whole your catchment area and hope that some of them can be bothered to switch to your brand. Or… you can tap into that quirky percentage that loves to try new flavours that they can’t get anywhere else, such as sea salt and raw chocolate ripple. You can also set a higher price for uniqueness.

Maybe you’re stuck with vanilla so you think you have no choice, “here it is, you know what it’s like, buy from us because it’s cheaper/creamier, whatever”. Not so! Switch on that entrepreneurial brain and think!

  • individually frozen ice cream cubes as fizz-bombs for sodas (young/teens)?
  • ice cream sculptures delivered in specific shapes, e.g. corporate logo, birthday numbers (all ages), etc.?

Focus on your best niche market(s) and develop your expertise accordingly.

  • Do you offer a cleaning service to all commercial offices, competing with everyone in your area? Try specialising in monthly deep cleans for care homes or specialise in cleaning/disinfecting computer keyboards.
  • Are you a psychotherapist who is qualified in many disciplines? Why not focus on counselling for the dental profession or for estranged parents/grandparents or companies making staff cuts?
  • As a fashion retailer, you are competing with everyone else by selling an array of colours and patterns printed on synthetic fabrics. Consider potential customers who will seek out collections in naturally dyed natural fabrics, which feel comfortable and can be accessorised for a unique look.

Just because you focus on niche groups doesn’t mean that you can’t expand beyond those when opportunities arise. Ensure that your ‘speciality’ is clearly defined with a strong message that your target audience will identify with.

An experienced real estate agent will tell you that it is better to furnish a room as a bedroom or a second reception room before selling your home. If you put a bed, wardrobe and dining suite together in one room, it shows confusion rather than versatility, a loss of identity. Isn’t it better to have a strong message that reaches half your audience or a weak one that reaches them all?

Remember that too much choice can hamper a person’s ability to decide. If you had to choose one of a dozen vanillas or that curiosity that stands apart – which is more appealing and therefore the easier decision? Be true to your speciality and don’t fear  what you might be missing.

If you’d like some help from an experienced start-up mentor, contact us – details below.