If you know even the most basic concepts about business and marketing, you have come across this word: niche.
Niche: A portion of a market that you’ve identified as having some special characteristic and that’s worth marketing to. (entrepreneur.com)
The problem with niches is that, often, they are either already saturated or they don’t reveal themselves to most entrepreneurs.
And that is because we, as entrepreneurs, see the world from our point of view. We are trying to create products and services that cater to the problems and needs that we know. Either by personal experience or by reading and investigating about a specific subject.
But when we learn about a niche from a way that is not personal experience, it is easy to be trapped in the idea of: “Is this really a niche? I would never pay for such a service.”
Let me give you a concrete example:
A few years ago, I worked as a journalist covering stories of rich, successful people, who all had this in common: they were Portuguese emigrants in France, and most of them had built their way up the social and economic ladder. They came from poor families who had to emigrate in the 60s and 70s, and they became successful businessmen with a story they were proud to tell.
Basically, these people had three specific characteristics:
1. They were successful
2. They had money
3. They were proud of themselves and wanted to show that
One day, in a casual conversation with my dad while walking through the gardens of Château de Versailles, he came up with a business idea:
“Why don’t you write the biographies of these people?”, he asked me. “Not to sell the books to the general audience, the public is not really interested in their stories. But for them, for their families, for their kids to know where their parents came from”.
That sounded extremely odd to me. I was an average 22-year-old at the time, who had just finished university and was starting my career.
1. I was not successful
2. I did not have money
3. I had very little I was proud of, and I definitely did not want to share that with anybody
From where I came from, that was a stupid idea. Why would anybody pay for this? Especially, because it would be a long process, something that would take months to complete, and many hours of work. So, whoever would hire me for a job like that, would have to be able to pay a lot of money.
A lot of money. For me, something like 5,000€ was definitely a lot of money. But a couple of years later, I would hear one of those successful businessmen say,
“I spent 5,000€ on a suit”
That blew my mind. Never, in my perfect average little life, would it have crossed my mind to spend that amount of money on a piece of clothing. But if someone pays 5,000€ for a suit, for sure that person would not find it odd if I charged that amount for a bespoken book about him and his family, right?
And so, “La Vie en Prose” was born. I created the structure for this project that had been in the making for four years, and I went out pitching it to the same people who had inspired it. I got three clients in six months. It might not seem like a lot, but it was more than enough to keep me busy and keep the cash coming in.
This experience taught me four valuable lessons:
- There is always someone willing to pay for a product or a service, no matter how specific or weird it might seem to you.
- People are very different, and so are their needs and wants — just because something is not relevant to you or the people around you, it doesn’t mean it is not a good idea.
- There is no need for the niche to be wide — if there are 50 people in the world who fit into that niche, and if you provide a premium service (charging a premium fee) to all of them, you will create a successful business.
- Connections are everything — if I hadn’t had close contact with those businessmen before, I would have never signed the deals I did.
I hope this helps you to finally take off with that weird idea that you have kept in the back of your head for years!