One of the most important lessons I learned early in my business career is that no matter what niche you are in, there are always going to be potential income streams which you may be overlooking … and that once you recognize and place focus on them, you can take your business to a completely new level.
Each of these can have a significant impact on buyer behavior.
In other cases, you may have to be innovative, coming up with a completely new or expanded portfolio of products and services which are more attuned to your current market or create a whole new market.
Apple are an excellent example of a company which defines new markets through innovation.
And sometimes you have to simply step back from what and how you have traditionally done business and adopt a completely new business model.
Australia Post are a great example here, taking staid old Post Offices and converting them into franchised operations which today are THE place in Australia to pay your bills, transfer funds, buy stationary and other small odds and ends for your office in addition to lodging and collecting mail.
It is all about thinking outside the square and doing what others have not done or which to date you have resisted.
There’s an element of innovation involved – but that innovation does not necessarily have to involve technology.
Here are three examples of niche businesses which have prospered by thinking out of the box – and NONE are driven by technology or the Internet.
More than 15 years ago, a good friend of mine purchased a trophy business in Brisbane Australia. The business had been built on the back of some big trophy contracts (with schools, sporting groups etc) which were all coming to an end. He had to do something to maintain cash flow.
Naturally, he got out to find replacement contracts. However, his main focus was on introducing a broader range of associated products including screen printing of shirts and caps, promotional items, sporting paraphernalia.
This expanded portfolio helped him secure many new contracts, both locally and interstate. Very quickly he went from a bit player to the most dominant in his niche, aided by his competitors failure to recognize that a Trophy business can do much more than produce and sell trophies alone.
Peter Bakker is one of the “go-to” man for any logistics requirements you may have in Asia.
With his extensive publishing background and strong industry connections across a variety of sectors, he could very easily do what many other logistics service providers do and simply service clients logistic needs.
However, due to his background in the publishing sector, he recognized those with logistics needs had much broader needs – that logistics was more of an end process.
Today, his Singapore-based business provides solutions for web content, off-shoring (software development, printing and graphic design), sourcing of promotional items from Asian factories, advertising and distribution management.
Very few logistics service providers can assist in any of these areas, hence why I refer to Peter as Asia’s “go-to” man for logistic needs.
Fast Food Industry
Also approximately 15 years ago, one of the members of my family started a new fast food operation, serving the breakfast, morning tea and lunch needs of workers in an industrial area in Brisbane Australia.
They enjoyed a good position which everyone acknowledges is key in retail. However, that position could only deliver a basic wage for the family as they had considerable competition.
In order to go forwards, they expanded their menu dramatically by introducing full meals (including many Greek dishes) which no other operators in the area were doing. Concurrently, they introduced a delivery service which only “pie carts” (meat pie and sausage roll vendors) were doing.
The business exploded, virtually quadrupling … because of differentiation.
They didn’t stop there. They subsequently introduced a more diverse range of goodies (e.g. sweets and drinks) within their portfolio and for walk in clients, added an ATM money dispensing machine so that clients could withdraw cash and spend more … and they do.
The business has now been operating for 15 years during which time many competitors have come and gone!
All of the above are real world businesses which need practical real world approaches in order to capture greater market share within their sector.
The role of technology can often be minute – you can’t service a factory workers lunch time needs via a Tweet, and a Facebook fan page is not going to help you attract business services contracts or large trophy orders.
If you want to grow your business or are in the process of starting a new venture, take a close look at what your clients need (current and anticipated), what your competitors are doing, trends in your industry, and your internal resources and capabilities.
Only after you have completed all of these steps will you be in a position to take the right action for expanding your presence and success in your niche.