Prospective owners of Craftsmen socket wrenches can choose from the classic, good, better or best models.
The “Best” wrench has more notches, or teeth, inside the mechanism, allowing for finer adjustments when tightening a bolt or nut, plus in a tight spot, the extra notches make the Best model work, well, best.
For the past 30 years, the marketplace has increasingly become like that “Best” socket wrench; every year, it acquires more notches. Except in the marketplace, notches are called niches (I prefer “nitch,” but some say “neesh” - tomato, tomahtoe). And just as more notches in a mechanical wrench allow for finer adjustments, niches create finer and more elegant ways to serve customers, which they like - a lot.
As niches have increased in number, so have entrepreneurial opportunities, resulting in the most dramatic expansion of the small business sector in history. It’s difficult to say which is the egg and which is the chicken: Have entrepreneurs taken advantage of niche opportunities presented to them, or have they carved out niches where they saw previously unrealized opportunity? The answer is not either/or, it’s both/and.
Webster defines niche as, “a place or position perfectly suited for the person or thing in it.” If ever a concept was “perfectly suited” for something, it is the niche and a small business. Indeed, as one small business owner identifies a new niche, another is creating a niche within a niche. It’s a beautiful thing.
Rebecca Boenigk (Bay-nik) is the president of Neutral Posture, Inc., a Texas small business she founded with her mother to build office chairs. Rebecca told me Neutral Posture has been successful because they fill a niche - REALLY comfortable, ergonomically correct and not inexpensive office chairs - instead of trying to make chairs for every person and price-point. In the 21st century, Rebecca’s story is legion.
In the future, there will be less mass marketing, mass media and mass distribution. But there will be more niches - lots of new niches. And while “mass” business models aren’t going away anytime soon, they won’t grow like niches. And that’s good news for small business and the future of 21st century entrepreneurship.
More niches means a healthier small business sector, which I happen to believe is good for America and the world.
Be the “BEST” by creating and serving niches.
For more of what I have to say on The Small Business Advocate Show about the success of finding a niche for your small business, click here and listen or download.