Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Being 'Unique' v's 'Too Niche' in Business. What is the Balance?

If you have come up with a business idea that you think is amazing, yet are scratching your head as to why no one else is doing it yet, you may start to pat yourself on the back for being an innovative genius, or start hearing alarm bells.

 Just today reading through different advice online for start-ups we read one article with the strong advice 'be unique' and another saying 'if you are researching and can't find anyone doing anything like what you are doing then there is probably a good reason'.  So how do you know which you have?  A great idea, or something no one is doing because there is simply no market for it!

Here are some tough questions to ask yourself about your business idea/product that might help you to decide:

  • What problem does my product or service solve? If there is no problem, then you are not offering a solution. If you can't answer this then chances are there is no market for what you are looking to offer. 
  • Who is my target customer? Is this a vast array of people, or people with very niche taste based in a very small area? Is there going to be a customer base big enough for you to build a business of size?
  • How much will it cost me to make/do? And how much will people pay for this? Do the figures add up? Don't gestimate. Research and be sure about these figures. 
  • How can I market this? You will need a smart marketing plan to reach the right customer. If you can't think of any logical way to market what you are doing then how will you make sales?
  • Is there opportunity for future growth? Is the service or product you are offering so specific that there is nowhere to go from here? If so is the market for that large enough to sustain your business for a long time? 

That being said, with every business even if you aren't re-writing history with your product or service, it is essential to understand what makes you unique.  How can there be a hair salon and chip shop on every corner?  Because each offers something different, no matter how small.  One chip shop may really specialise in quality fish and chips, while the other offers a wide range of choice of cuisines.  Each will appeal to someone different.  So what is your cherry on the top?  What is it you will specialise in, be the best at, offer that makes you the best option?  Knowing that is knowing how to stand out from the crowd. 

Define your 'unique selling point' early as this will help you to understand how to price yourself, who your customer is, and how to market what you do. 

In summary, the best way to look at it is to understand what makes you different and unique, but try to avoid the obscure if you are looking to make a living from your business idea.

For more advice on starting a business and the opportunity to sit down with a business adviser who you can bounce your ideas off, find out more about the Enterprise Hub Project funded by ERDf (European Regional Development Fund) to support Liverpool City Region residents to start a business.  You can contact the Enterprise hub team on 0151 706 8113 or enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk 

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