|Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with a student who is taking a summer writing course at Saddleback College. Her assignment was to do a personal interview with an active member of an organization or club. Her Internet search led her to NAWBO, and she was sent in my direction.
We sat down over lunch and went through her questions. I was able to tell her about my experiences after joining NAWBO and the benefits of membership. I told her about my business as a writer, how and why I started it, and how NAWBO has helped me find new clients by giving me a base for forming strong relationships with other business owners.
After I was assured she had enough material to complete her presentation, I asked about her studies and her goals. She is currently working as a paralegal but doesn't see that as her "real" career. She was excited about finding NAWBO and inspired by information she found on our Web site. As a consequence, she's been thinking about starting a business – but what business, she doesn't yet know. She had been advised, and thought it a good idea, to prepare for a broad outreach – to cast a wide net, so that she would have more opportunities in this tough market.
I'm no expert, but I possess a certain amount of common sense that was telling me that the advice this young woman had been given was wrong. With her permission, I offered my opinion. Here's what I told her:
1. Focus. Don't think broad – think narrow. If you try to make yourself all things to all people, you'll be nothing special to anybody. I believe in the old days, they called that a "Jack of all Trades and Master of None." I told her to become a master at something.
2. Find a need and serve it. Or find a problem and solve it. Or find a desire and fulfill it.
3. Understand the ways in which your products or abilities can be used.
4. Be prepared to educate potential customers about the value of what you offer. Know how your product or service will make something possible, make something easier, save money or bring joy.
5. Identify your target market and stick to it. Know who needs you and why.
6. Be unique. Do it better, do it differently or offer something greater than your competition.
In other words, find the right niche.
I hope that what I told my new young friend was good advice. Many of you reading this have been in business longer than I. What do you think?