Marketing experts will tell you that the fastest way to grow a business is to pick ONE thing to become known for. But for Neurodiverse, multifaceted, multi-passionate polymaths the decision to "niche down"/specialize or focus on a single domain can feel almost painful, like you're losing a part of your self.
There is a Yin and Yang to niching down versus staying a generalist. These represent the complementary but opposing forces in business strategy; the dark and light, the feminine and masculine. BOTH are normal, natural and necessary exist for energy to flow in the world.
I personally found the idea of having a niche pretty scary - it seemed too restrictive and limiting - like I was waving goodbye to lots of potential clients (and money). I understood that logically most people prefer to buy from specialists, not generalists, but it was (and is!) incredibly challenging for me to put into practice because I am very sensitive to rejection and risk/failure.
This article will delve into both sides of the debate, examining both the merits and drawbacks of heeding the call to become known for ONE thing instead of many.
"The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. It is to do business with people who believe what you believe"
What is a Niche?
Niche [neesh] or [nich]
A specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service. (ie "The company found its niche in providing eco-friendly packaging solutions.")
A comfortable or suitable position in life or employment. (ie "After years of exploration, she finally discovered her niche as a successful entrepreneur.")
A shallow recess, especially one in a wall to display a statue or other ornament.( ie "The architect designed niches in the museum walls to showcase valuable artifacts.")
The role or function of an organism or species in an ecological system. (ie "Each species has its niche in the ecosystem, contributing to the balance of nature.")
Place or position (something) in a niche. ie ("The artist niched the sculpture into the alcove for a dramatic effect.")
Denoting products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. (ie"Other companies in this space had to adapt to being niche players.")
These definitions help explain a little why a solopreneur might decide to niche. Many of us are simply looking for our own little place in the universe. To be KNOWN for one thing in particular is a special thing.
That being said, it's still not the right decision for everyone. Read on for more!
Advantages vs Disadvantages of Niching: A Birds-Eye View
Professional marketers and business strategists will urge you to hone in on one specialization, but this advice is not a fit for everyone.
Pros of A Narrow, Defined Niche:
Most marketing experts are Pro-Niche because being a specialist is more memorable and unique- putting you more easily at the top of mind once your customer is ready to buy, or to send a a referral your way. If you can find a specific market that is profitable and resonates with you, it is marketing gold because it ultimately means less work, not more.
Expertise and Authority: Becoming an expert in one area, and cultivating an in-depth understanding of a chosen field can help build credibility, trust and authority within your market.
Targeted Marketing: With a clearly defined niche, your marketing efforts become more focused and efficient. You can tailor your messaging and strategies to address the specific needs and pain points of your audience. You can streamline your operations, maintain lower overheads, and offer competitive pricing without compromising service quality.
Reduced Competition: By catering to a smaller market, you may face less competition, allowing you to establish a stronger foothold in that specific space.
Better Client/Audience Matching: Niching down helps attract a dedicated audience who align well with your offerings, resulting in better client satisfaction and deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Easier/More Persuasive Sales Pitching: When you become immersed in that niche you know every single intimiate detail about it. This nothing gives you a headstart on research, and content creation but also in presenting convincing case studies and sales pitch.
"The riches are in the niches."
Cons of A Narrow, Defined Niche:
The conventional method of niche selection fails to factor in the presence of sufficient experience, meaning, connection or interest in the chosen niche.
Limited Audience Reach: A niche market could have a smaller audience, limiting your overall customer base and potential growth opportunities.
Vulnerability to Market Changes: Becoming overdependent or relying heavily on one single niche can leave you at risk to economic changes or shifts within that niche.If the niche becomes less relevant or diminishes, your business might face challenges pivoting or transitioning to different markets
Narrow Business Scope: Working within a niche might limit your ability to explore other interests or expand your business into different areas.
"The Most Profitable Niche Is You."
Pros of A Wider, Undefined Niche:
Understanding business from a broader perspective is more important than merely finding the "best" niche. What could be more empowering than creating offers that align with your personal preferences and needs? It's a shortcut to business success.
Wider Audience Reach: If you cast a wider net of services, products and offerings then you are better equipped to meet diverse client needs. With a broader approach, you have the potential to attract a larger audience, tapping into different markets and demographics.
Diverse Revenue Streams: As a generalist with a wide range of services or products, you are also allowing for a broader range of income streams.
Freedom and Flexibility: Being a generalist allows you to adapt to market changes more easily, explore various other passions skill sets, and pivot your business to other opportunities as needed.
Creative Cross-Pollination: Working across different fields or industries can inspire greater creativity, collaboration and innovation by applying insights from one area to another.
Constant Change: Embracing the variety, diversity and dynamism of being a generalist is appealing to those who loathe monotony. One person's chaos is another person's joy. Variety is the spice of life, after all!
Cons of a Wider, Undefined Niche:
If you're good at everything, how can you be great at anything?
Competitive Challenges: In a saturated market, standing out as a generalist can be challenging due to greater competition and diluted messaging. It can be harder to differentiate in the competitive market.
Lack of Specialization: Not focusing on a specific niche may lead to a perceived lack of expertise or authority in any particular area.
Resource Allocation: Trying to cater to various areas may stretch your resources thin, making it challenging to provide specialized services or products.
Marketing Difficulties: Marketing efforts might be less targeted and effective when addressing a diverse audience with varying needs and interests.
Ultimately, the decision between niching down and remaining a generalist depends on various factors, including your business goals, strengths, market dynamics, and personal preferences. It's essential to weigh these pros and cons carefully to align your approach with your business strategy and objectives.
"I'd rather be someone's shot of whisky than everyone's cup of tea."
Navigating the Decision: A Holistic Approach
As a multi-passionate, neurodiverse solopreneur, you might find the idea of niching down confining. Afterall, you view the world through different lens and often dance to the beat of your own drum.
For those with PDA (pathological demand avoidance) conforming to conventional norms can feel very triggering. The generalist approach may be more appealing because it allows you to authentically express your multidimensional self, fostering a community that resonates with your diverse passions.
Remember, a niche is not just a specific focus or interest but rather an all-encompassing snapshot of an individual's personal experiences, their life journey, worldview and perspective
It's ok that the traditional advice of niching down might not fit your vision and strengths. This is YOUR life, YOUR path, YOUR journey. You make the calls.
Still on the fence? The steps below can help you come to a clearer decision of what is right for you.
Self-Reflection: Start by introspecting deeply. Understand your strengths, passions, and how they align with your entrepreneurial goals. Acknowledge the areas where your neurodiversity acts as an advantage and where it might pose challenges.
Audience Understanding: Delve into the psyche of your audience. Determine if they value a specialized expert in a niche or prefer a multifaceted, versatile resource catering to various needs.
Balancing Passion and Profit: Consider the intersection between what you love and what sustains your business. Assess if niching down would allow you to monetize specific passions effectively or if being a generalist aligns better with your varied interests.
Expirement & Explore. First, pick a niche you think you might like and test it for 6 months. If you feel your creativity and passion fade, move on to another niche that energizes you. In this way, you can work through a process of elimination. Take on many smaller projects from a variety of markets. This won't get you a big payout, but it will eventually help you find that niche which lights a fire inside you.
Consider the Hybrid Approach. Taking the Middle Path can allow you to strike a balance. While embracing a generalist ethos, identify common threads weaving through your passions. Develop a unique narrative that encapsulates your diverse interests, allowing you to present a cohesive brand while maintaining the breadth of your multifaceted self. This approach allows you to explore diverse domains while establishing a coherent identity for your audience. Practice creating diverse, informative and interesting content that resonates with a variety of people rather than rigidly sticking to a single topic. Build trust with your followers and grow your engagement over time.
Authenticity Above All
The digital marketing and creator space can often push individuals to conform or emulate others' success strategies. But there is no one-size-fits all, no universal right way. It's imperative to maintain your unique individuality and stay true to oneself. Find what feels best, what works for you and do that. Leave the rest - because anything that doesn't feel natural wont be sustainable anyway.
Live your life and as you encounter problems, share your resulting wisdom and solutions with your followers. Let the myriad of life experiences, including family, friendship, loss, aging, and personal growth, shape your perspectives. Over time you will have developed a personal brand as a real HUMAN, not just a single-focus robot.
Ultimately only YOU know what's best for you. Understanding yourself, your skills, your customer/audience preferences, and industry trends is pivotal in making an informed decision about the direction of your business.
"The world needs all kinds of minds."
Wrapping It Up
The common advice to "niche down" in business is often misguided and reflects a society where individuals conform to pre-established norms without questioning their reasoning, validity or effectiveness. But the next era in business and branding is all about authenticity and alignment, embracing the values of empathy, vulnerability, compassion, self-acceptance, gratitude, and mindfulness.
Ultimately, the decision to niche down or wide is deeply personal. Ultimately being a Jack (or Jackie) of All Trades offers versatility and flexibility but might lack the depth and authority that come with true niche mastery. Becoming a trusted, respected, reputable SME (Subject Matter Expert) involves focusing intensely on a specific field and offers the ability to solve complex problems within that domain.
Remember, the world is abundant. You don't have to choose. You can be ALL of it. It's about embracing a Both/And mindset, not Either/Or thinking. If we look at our selves and our businesses with black-or-white lens where only one option or perspective is acceptable, we limit ourselves tremendously and risk missing out on so much joy and opportunity.
So if you’re a solopreneur brimming with diverse skills and interests, I say EMBRACE IT. You are not just a "generalist." You are a kaleidoscope of colors. You are rare and beautiful butterfly with so much potential for impacting and changing the world.
In the end, entrepreneurship is an exciting journey full of experimentation, trial and error and there is no "wrong way." Instead there is an opportunity or a lesson hiding around every turn. Embrace the unknown and know that you may decide to pivot or morph multiple times, and that's ok. Life, and business, are about FLUIDITY.
Celebrate the richness of your mind and spirit, acknowledging that your unique custom spice-blend of skills, interests and messaging will resonate with the RIGHT customers, those that you are meant to connect with. In the meantime, Permission to be authentically YOU - colorful, chaotic and all.
Ready to carve your unique niche in the market, or to fully embrace ALL of your wholeness? Let's connect for a full-spectrum marketing strategy consult.
Erin Ratliff is a holistic business coach and organic growth & visibility marketer serving energy-sensitive, earth-loving, heart-led soul-preneurs, self-starters, and founders with the mission of personal and planetary healing.
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