When You Struggle To Find Your Niche

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The definition of small business varies wildly by industry. The SBA calls a business with as much as $21.5 million in revenue small.

Not exactly what I had in mind.

I also discovered that I don’t like having more than one contact in a business.

I decided to redefine my niche as solopreneur.

I tweaked my website to appeal to my new niche. I hung out my red velvet rope. There was one small problem: in my head I was still targeting anyone with a wallet.

I took on clients and businesses I knew were a bad fit.

They were so wrong that every post and page I wrote for them drained me. Every word was a slog.

I cringed when I saw their messages in my inbox.

I resented the time I spent on their projects.

Then things got even muddier. I knew I wanted to work with solopreneurs. I even knew what kind of solopreneur.

Unfortunately, there was no word for who I work with best. I needed a word to hang my hat on. An easy one-word description of my niche. Then it hit me, metaphysics!

I set up a new website and talked to people with metaphysical businesses.

I was off and running. The problem was metaphysical business owner doesn’t accurately describe the kind of person I work with best. Once again, I had a niche on paper and once again, in my head, I was targeting anyone with a wallet. Once again, I was working on cringe-worthy projects that drained me or bored me.

Right around this time, I met a former co-worker for coffee. She and I reminisced about the staffing company we had worked for. I used to joke that staffing was a square peg in the round hole of standard business practice. That’s when it hit me.

I want to work with square peg businesses.

Businesses that defy niching. Businesses that are doing something new or different.

I finally accepted that my niche wouldn’t be defined in a short phrase. I would have to define my own niche. The red velvet rope would be made of steel. I’m also learning to stick to my guns and say no to cringe-worthy projects.

If you think you have a niche but find yourself working with less than ideal people I have a few tips:

  • Go easy on yourself. It’s hard to say no to any project especially in the beginning.
  • If your business is based on relationship marketing, your niche won’t be easily defined in one word or phrase. You’ll rely heavily on psychographics—the personality and character traits of your ideal clients—to define your target market.
  • Go through your client list and pick out your favorites. Figure out what they have in common. That’s a good starting point to define your ideal client.
  • Don’t be afraid to hang out your red velvet rope. The wrong projects and wrong clients will sap your energy and ultimately hold you back.
  • Remember that nothing is set in stone. You’re allowed to change your mind, be wrong and try something new.