Niche restrictions?

Sent by Jonathan Stark on December 12th, 2019

There are pros and cons to everything, so... what are the cons of niching way down and pigeonholing yourself to a particular target market?

The biggest worry I hear when folks are considering a very small target market is that prospective clients won’t want you working for their competitors.

In my experience, this worry is almost always unfounded. You imagine that clients will be concerned about this because you believe that the market is much smaller than it really is.

Clients - who are actually familiar with their market - know that it is quite large and are happy to find a specialist who understands their business and can speak their language.

In the rare case that a client is nervous about you working for their competitors, you can usually talk them off the ledge by reassuring them of your ethics, pointing out that a bad reputation would instantly ruin your business, and offering to sign an NDA.

As David C. Baker so brilliantly wrote in The Business of Expertise, clients are more worried about incompetence than competition. If they see you as the most competent option, they’ll almost always choose you over generalist competitors who do not understand their business.

So... don’t worry about it. There are more fish in the sea than you think and most of them won’t care anyway.

Yours,

—J