Why Start With A Tight Niche
When I started in business 20 years ago, I really didn’t understand the concept of niching.
I believed I was niche enough in opting to be an intellectual property law firm, rather than a general business and commercial law firm.
Indeed, I chose the name Azrights because I wanted to offer the A-Z of IP services. I actually believed there was a gap in the market because solicitors tended not to offer trademark registration or patent services in those days. They focused purely on IP litigation work
So, consumers had to find a firm of trademark attorneys for trademark and patent registrations and find a firm of litigation solicitors if they had an IP dispute to resolve. My thinking was: what if people could access all the IP services they needed under one roof? This is quite commonplace today, but wasn’t back in 2005.
Believe it or not IP is a vast field. It was a lot to offer patents, designs, trademarks, copyright, legal drafting, litigation etc. Each of these topics comes with hefty textbooks and case law. So, even though I seemed to be niching by focusing on intellectual property, I wasn’t in truth niching at all. (Obviously, I wasn’t doing all the work myself. I’d found a trademark and patent attorney who worked as a consultant doing the trademark, design and patent work).
Now that I understand business so much better, I realise that even though I aspired to offer the A-Z of IP services, I should have started by focusing on a sub-niche, and expanded niche by niche.
After all, that’s how the likes of Facebook did it. When the company started in 2004 it focused its membership to Harvard students initially, expanding to other colleges in the Boston area, then to Ivy League universities, and gradually to most universities in the United States and Canada and then corporations etc.
Why do business owners ignore the advice to focus on a tight niche initially?
Perhaps, it’s due to not knowing which sub niche the market will respond to? Or, it’s a fear of missing out on opportunities that makes people want to cast a wider net.
Whatever the reason, it’s one of my top pieces of advice to startups: focus on a tight niche initially. It doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with that niche forever. It’s simply the starting point to getting work. You extend to other niches gradually.
It’s counterintuitive to narrow ones focus to attract more work but that’s what happens when you concentrate your resources and go all in on a single area and say no to everything else.
Niching is something I cover in depth when I work with clients one to one on their branding or rebranding projects.
I’m going to work with a handful of private clients to help them with their brand projects. Look out for more news coming soon.