I was at WITS – the Wine Industry Technology Symposium – last week when one of the Speakers in the General Session implored the audience to be “a niche leader.” This got me thinking: What does that really means, and how do you do it?
I decided to start with the definition of niche, specifically niche market which is the business context for niche. Wikipedia defines a niche market as “a focused targetable portion of the market.” Focused and targetable. This is really the key for most businesses. I want to concentrate on focused because I find that many businesses are deplorably unfocused, with only have a vague definition of what they do. This leaves the core business open to interpretation and can lead to poor and scattered use of precious resources. You’ve seen these businesses, they always have a “new project” in the works, but their projects never quite deliver expected results. The problem is that by leaving their business definition vague, they haven’t defined what they don’t do. They end up running after the “Idea-du-Jour”, only to find that their limited resources are stretched too thin. When that idea does not immediately solve the problem as they had hoped, they are on to the next one. The remedy is simple, just not easy.
I recommend starting by answering these questions:
1. What are the strengths of your core personnel, specifically your owners?
2. What can you offer that is unique?
3. What are you passionate about?
4. Are you driven by quality or by price?
Once you’ve answered these questions you should have the frame work of a business definition. Now you need to focus. Think about your resources, both financial and personnel and make a determination of what you can do better than your competition. Are you a great winemaker, a good grower, are you cash strapped or flush, are you innovative or technologically astute? If you need, rank your strengths and focus on the top two or three. Great businesses are driven by their owners’ passion. How can you express that passion in your business? If your passion has no relationship to your business, this is a good time to rethink your business. And the last question, how will your decisions be driven? This is a choice people are loath to make, but it is a necessary one and one best made upfront. I am not saying that quality and price are mutually exclusive, but there comes a point in every business where you must decide which will take precedence, the price (both the cost and the price to consumer) or the quality.
When you have your answers focused into a concise message you’re ready to think about your target market, but that is another post.