5 Things Niche Companies Do Wrong

January 18th, 2009

Here’s the newest essay in the series on Microniche Marketing.

5 Things Niche Companies Do Wrong

Don’t Plan

You have a great idea and it’s all going well. You’ve got your first product on the shelves, or a nice list of clients for your service. Everything’s working beautifully. But, in business there’s only two directions – growth or entropy. Most companies plain for neither.

If a small business is successful, then growth is decent, new challenges pop up faster than they are resolved and it takes more time to deal with than you have in a day, so things like planning for the future take a back seat to dealing with the now.

It’s important to stop and think about failure and success. What will you do if this next series is a huge hit – do you have resources to handle the fulfillment? What if your eBay store takes off – can you give it time, or is it always falling to the bottom of the list – how will you restock your shelves if the new store is a success?

Equally – what if it’s a failure? what will you do when the last three products don’t make their margins, or the service isn’t drawing clients? What if you have contracts, but not enough money to do the work?

I see this a lot in the anime/manga world – new companies, with great ideas…and not an ounce of contingency planning.

How to Fix This: With every decision you make, take a second to add a line or two of growth and entropy planning. When the idea gets started and is showing signs of either one or the other, you’ll at least have an inkling of what direction to take.

Fear Change

Your business came from your ideas, your blood, sweat and tears. And now it’s taken off and you’ve taken it to the limits of your abilities to succeed. You’re looking to take it to the next step, bring new ideas to fruition and add value to the things you already do.

But to do that – you will need to change your business. Perhaps add a new employee to take up the slack, or change a business practice, or vendor. Or completely rethink something you’re doing that could be done better differently. Change means loss of control, moving away from *your* vision. It’s hard to let go of your original model, even if a new one would be infinitely better. Niche companies get comfortable in their niche and without even realizing it, they start to fear change.

How to Fix This: If what you are doing is working, then don’t change it. But when you look to grow, you’ll need to get over the fear of change. Change is inevitable in any case, so it’s a good idea to build a little change into your plan at every step, so you get used to it in increments. Consider the things are likely change and what change you can tolerate. Remember how it felt to start your company? Take a risk and capture that feeling of endless possibilities once again.

Forget to Communicate

You’re busy. and your business is clear to you. But your clients and customers don’t always know what you’re thinking. It seems crass to send an email to everyone who has ever bought something from you, that you have a new item for sale – but, it’s not. If you don’t tell people about a new offering, they can’t possibly know about it.

How to Fix This: Talk to your customers and clients. Solicit information, provide feedback. Don’t be afraid to tell them what new things you can offer them. Even if you’ve told them before, you aren’t the center of their universe – tell them again. It’s not tacky.

Listen To People

When you launched your business, you had some hits – and some misses. One of the misses has got a lot of free time on his hands and is crisscrossing town, or your online space, expounding his dissatisfaction.

You can’t change that. Someone is always not going to like the way you make coffee, the color of the flowers, the logo design.

How to Fix This: Don’t listen to it. Don’t follow the forum, read the opinion letter in the newspaper or let your friend tell you the story of the rant. It won’t provide you constructive criticism and you’ll lose confidence in yourself and your business. Work to your strengths for a while and solicit positive – and loud – feedback from satisfied customers. After a while the good will drown out the bad.

Don’t Listen to Good Advice

You’ve decided to look for an advertising firm, or to get a new logo, or have your office walls painted. You’ve solicited a few bids and picked the company that you want to work with.

The first thing they tell you, you tell them why you can’t do that. Then you explain to them, very carefully and slowly, why what they do isn’t really what you want at all, you really want something else – only, you don’t want that, either.

If the marketing person says you *don’t* need Twitter, your audience isn’t *on* Twitter, why argue that you want Twitter?

How to Fix This: When you’re planning a project with a new company, think carefully about your goals for the project – then give your expert that information – not what you think you want, but what your goal for the project is. Then listen to their advice. Chances are they know what they are talking about. That’s what you’re paying them for, after all.

The business world is changing rapidly and it’s not always possible to be on the leading edge. Sometimes it’s not even desirable.

As a niche company, you need to decide what your limits are for change. Sometimes the absolutely best thing you can decide is to stick to your original plan. Sometimes you’ll need to look way past your own ideas for the solution. Either way, things are going to be different. Don’t fear change – embrace it.

Fix any one of these five things and you’ll find that your business runs smoother almost instantly.

Microniche Marketing, from Yurikon LLC. Intelligent Business Promotion

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5 Responses

  1. BruceMcF says:

    Point 4 is very well put … a niche enterprise has to find its market, and nurture it, but it doesn’t have to find every market. Especially in a Web 2.0 world, its possible to sink endless hours chasing after the same naysayers … time that could be invested more usefully in yea-sayers.

  2. neohrtgdv says:

    As an administration student and future niche business person I find these bits of advice very helpful, thank you Erica!

  3. metatron says:

    Thank you very much Erica for these microniche marketing advice and I’ll use them when I build my niche company.

    Btw, I tried downloading the PDF file that’s link on your post but I got a 404 ^^;;;

  4. @metatron – Link fixed.

  5. Yaoi Press says:

    You should put these pearls of wisdom on ehow.com and bukisa so you can get paid for them. (Not much, though).


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