Tag Archive for 'Neutral Posture'

The future is bright for niches

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.

Access more great SBA content HERE!

Small business and the wonderful world of niches

One of the things Sears Roebuck became famous for is their Craftsmen tools, especially their socket wrenches, which are mechanical wrenches. Once, when I was buying one of these wrenches I was confronted with options of “Good,” “Better” and “Best,” a strategy for which Sears is also famous. When I asked about the difference between the Better and Best models I was told that the Best model had more notches, or teeth, inside the mechanism. This would allow for finer adjustments to be made when tightening a bolt or nut. Plus, in a tight situation, 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 case of the marketplace, notches are called niches (I prefer “nitch,” but some say “neesh” – tomato, tomahto). And just as increasing the notches in a mechanical wrench allows for finer adjustments, niches create finer and more elegant ways to serve customers, which they like – a lot.

As niches within industries have increased, so have entrepreneurial opportunities resulting in the most dramatic expansion of the small business sector in history. It’s difficult to say which one is the egg and which is the chicken: Are entrepreneurs taking advantage of niche opportunities as they present themselves, or are entrepreneurs carving out niches in the process of pushing the envelope of an industry? 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 creates a new niche today, another is taking this practice to the next level by creating a niche within a niche. It’s a beautiful thing.

As I consider the direction of the marketplace in the future, I don’t see more mass marketing, mass media or mass distribution. I see more niches. Don’t worry; business models based on “mass” anything aren’t going away anytime soon. But they won’t grow like niches will. And that’s nothing but good news for small business and the reason why I’m so excited about the future of entrepreneurship in the 21st century. Because more niches means a healthier small business sector, which I happen to believe is also good for the world.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with my friend and Brain Trust member, Rebecca Boenigk, about her company’s niche. Founded by her and her mother, Rebecca is president of Neutral Posture, which makes REALLY comfortable and ergonomically correct office chairs - the kind business people sit and work in all day. Rebecca says that her business is doing just fine in 2009 because her company fills a niche, instead of trying to be all things to all people. Take a few minutes to listen to what this niche expert has to say about how her 75-person American small business manufacturer is taking on this recession, as they simultaneously celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. And be sure to leave your own thoughts.




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