A lot of new business owners struggle to find their niche.
“Niching is so restricting.”
“I don’t want to pigeonhole myself like that.”
But what if there was another way to look at it?
What if a niche was simply a choice of where to focus?
A Niche Is Your Place In The System
Think of nature.
In nature there are different spaces.
There are forests.
There are oceans.
There are mountain tops.
There are rivers.
There are savannahs.
There is the sky.
There are deserts.
And different species adapt for these different environments.
A fish adapts for the sea, or for rivers.
A bird adapts to take advantage of the sky.
A lion adapts to thrive in the savannah.
Each of these species adapts by developing particular skills and abilities that help them to survive and thrive in their particular environment.
A Koala bear can eat eucalyptus leaves, that other animals cannot.
A Cheetah can run extremely fast in pursuit of its prey, giving it an advantage over both prey and over other predators.
They have, over time, developed unique advantages – and a unique niche (place) in the system.
Species that are well adapted also learn the dynamics of their environment – what works and what doesn’t. They develop a deep knowledge of what is going on in a particular environment – how to recognise and respond to threats, and where the opportunities are. They are intimately tuned in to signals about changes in their environment, and how to respond.
The Business World Also Has Ecosystems – Places You Can Choose To Operate In
The business world also has different spaces – different ecosystems.
There is the corporate sector.
The non-profit sector.
There are different industries – the consumer goods sector, the finance sector, the business services sector.
There are different geographic regions – North America, the USA, Los Angeles, Hollywood. Europe, the United Kingdom, London.
There are different spaces, like the B2B space or the B2C space.
There are different places in which you can serve and add value. These different environments reflect different circumstances, different forces at work, different players, and different needs.
Niching is Simply Picking A Place To Be In, and A Path To Adapting
You have to choose a place to be in the system, because you can’t be in multiple places at once – at least when starting out.
Niching is making that choice to be in a particular place in the system.
Then you can adapt in that place to develop specific advantages – and guarantee you will survive and thrive.
You don’t have to give up anything. You don’t have to pigeonhole yourself.
You just have to choose which space you want to play in, and where in the world you want to make your business “home.”
Niching Is Not Necessarily Specialising
Nature does not demand that every species becomes a specialist.
A Koala bear is a specialist – it only eats eucalyptus leaves. It is completely dependent on environments in which it can find eucalyptus leaves.
It’s specialisation means it has little competition for food, and can thrive for as long as the food source is available.
Human beings, by contrast, are generalists. We can survive and thrive in a variety of environments, because we evolved to adapt to change. We can live in hot or cold climates, and we can eat meat or vegetables or both (we are omnivores).
Nature does not say you have to be a specialist. But if you don’t want to be a specialist, you need to find a niche – a place in a system – where your way of being a generalist is valued and appreciated, for the specific skillset and advantages you can bring to the table – your specific advantage.
You need to find a way that your abilities as a generalist let you do valuable things that a specialist can’t or won’t do.
You need to be a useful generalist, or a relevant specialist.