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Building a Niche Business

For some entrepreneurs, establishing your niche business was one of the easiest decisions you have ever made. There was a subject, a topic or a hobby of great interest to you. In fact, you couldn’t get enough of the learning and growing process. You gravitated to the business because it was a natural fit for your skills and interests.

For other entrepreneurs, you simply identified a niche product or service and saw an opportunity in a marketplace that wasn’t being served or, perhaps, not being served in a way that met your vision.

Regardless of how you found your niche, there is one thing all small business owners have in common-an unmistakable and burning desire to see their niche business become a resounding success.

Unfortunately, as you may have already learned, seeing and believing in an opportunity does not guarantee its success. If you’re not seeing the results you had envisioned when you started your small business, there may be a reason why. Many small businesses feel threatened and intimidated when it comes to competing against larger entities or big box retailers and stores.

It is natural to think a larger store or dominating force in your industry will make all of the money and leave too little for you. But, is this actually true or a figment of your imagination? Many experts would have you believe ‘the riches are in the niches’. If you are looking for some hope, a little inspiration and some serious strategies to combat the big boys in your field, take a fresh look and learn how to turn the tables for increased revenues and improved profits.

Turning the Tables

So, you want to compete against the larger more efficient businesses in your industry, but you don’t know how? Here are three key areas where your small business can gain a competitive edge.

Power of your Personality

We live in a new age of authenticity and connection. The veil has been lifted from the old corporate structures and ways of doing business. We see this being played out every day with the popularity of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. Today’s customers want to be seen and heard. They are looking for an authentic connection with the maker’s and providers of goods and services.

Customers also want to leave positive reviews and feel they had a hand in sharing the good news of a successful trip, the purchase of a new product or an improvement in the way they are doing something that matters to them.

Because you stand alone as the head of a much smaller organization, and, in some cases, all alone, you get to use your own voice and personality to make a difference. Let the power of your unique personality be the gateway to increased sales while building brand loyalty and a dedicated following.

Big Shifts More Quickly

As you reach out and make contact with your growing and ever changing customer base, you will be receiving vital feedback on customer likes, tastes and preferences. You will see new trends emerge as they are happening. Large companies don’t always have this luxury.

They are known as slower movers in a marketplace because their decision making process can be riddled with endless meetings and approval systems that take time, money and energy.

As a niche business, you can react far more quickly as you are building a business based on customer demand. You can introduce new products or variations on existing products without getting bogged down.

Creative Brand Positioning

A micro business owner is at a distinct advantage when creating unique products and services that serve a segmented market. When you break down a larger market to a much smaller, concentrated area, you will find extremely passionate people who are looking for that exact solution.

Even if there is more volume in the larger markets, the smaller numbers in the segmented market can offer stronger buying power and a greater sense of loyalty. This translates to a higher lifetime value of your customers.

Use creative brand positioning to move within your niche as you are growing your business. This will allow you to be the most competitive regardless of who you’re up against.

Redefining FEAR

If you looked up the strict definition of fear, it would be to describe ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is a danger or threat’. But, why are big box stores such a threat to you and your business? Is it possible that the real fear you are facing is ‘false evidence appearing real?”

It is probably safe and fair to assume that a big box retailer has certain advantages over someone who is just starting a business. They likely have access to more funding for future growth and may be able to tap into cash reserves on a moment’s notice. Yet, your small business is financially strapped at the turn of every corner.

However, having a large budget does not guarantee their success as a business in a competing industry simply because of their presence. So, try not to let fear and doubt create an illusion that is greater than the reality. Remember this quote when either of these emotions takes hold: ‘Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.’

Deconstruct any fear you might be facing with some empowering methods used by other small businesses to own their niche market.

Become the most valuable resource for your niche. Prove yourself and your company as the authority by offering insightful and interesting information on your niche. Write articles, blogs, guest features for your customers and target market. When you become the authority and educator on a specific topic, your market will look to you
for the solution and as the leader in your market.

Create powerful and unique customer experiences. Engage all or some of your customers senses with enticing music, online store displays (or in store for brick and mortar), creative check out processes, or special selections or sales. Each of these stimuli can be presented in a unique and compelling way that sets you apart from your competitors.

Become the brand champion. Everyone wants to associate with winners and champions especially when it relates to a product or service they are passionate about. Being a part of a community where everyone speaks the same language and uses niche buzz words can be very appealing to the right group. Look for interesting and creative ways to engage your target market with your brand identity. Perhaps your customers can use a secret code when ordering or wear your logo to select events for recognition.

Once you become the brand champion, there are many ways to engage your most loyal customers in helping to spread the brand identity.

Can Big Business Be Your Friend?

We have discussed a number of ways to separate your unique identity from the big box stores and celebrate your special qualities and advantages. Big business doesn’t have to be a threat at all when you adjust your mind set and open yourself up to additional revenue streams.

Isn’t it possible that big box stores could also be your friend? This is certainly the case when you begin to consider the number of ways you can align with them. In fact, it can be one of the most profitable strategies to consider for your future. Here are some ways you can merge your best interests.

Big business can be your distributor. Why not leverage your products and services by placing them in the hands of big arm businesses who can act as a distributor for you? They tend to have all of their locations and buyers lined up in an efficient manner. You can call on their skills, connections and financial backing to streamline your product introduction. You can expand your market much faster while building a loyal fan base.

Big business can be your customer. Could big business also have a need for your products or services? In many cases, this is true. This would allow you to sell your product in bulk and help you build capital quickly. While it’s never good to rely on one source of revenue, it could be a smart strategic relationship to help you expand and reach more of your target market.

Big business can be your partner. Big businesses have their set of skills and attributes, just as you have. Each has strengths and weaknesses as well. Why not blend them together to help grow your business? Oftentimes, a larger business wants to delve into a smaller niche market, but recognizes you already have a high quality product. So, why not invest in you? As a solopreneur or small business owner, you may benefit greatly from their vast reach and cross selling techniques to widen your audience.

There are many ways to grow your niche business and declare uncontested market space for your product or service. Never fear the large box stores as you recognize your limitless potential to segment the market as you see fit and deliver the consumer experiences that will create long time loyal followers.

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is proud to serve as your advocate and resource provider for entrepreneurs and small business owners around the country. To learn more, visit the

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