So my husband Murray and I drive by this parked van fairly often and it always makes us laugh…
Can you guess why?
Yes, one of those 3 services on the side of the van doesn’t belong… what’s web design doing there?
And I see this type of thing happening all the time in my hometown of New Orleans, where we have Chinese restaurants that also serve pizza and burgers 🙂
So here’s my question…
Can you see yourself ordering a cheeseburger at a Chinese restaurant or getting someone who repairs computers and iPhones to design your website?
I’m guessing the answer is no.
When you want something done right, you want to go to a specialist, someone with deep expertise in the area you need support in, someone who has the credibility and the expertise to get it done right…
Not someone spreading themselves thin trying to do e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!
It’s a basic principle in business… unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs miss this in the quest to be all things to all people.
I see the Chinese Cheeseburger Phenomenon happen all the time online, because way too many entrepreneurs are building what I call a Peter Pan Business — a business that refuses to decide what it wants to be when it grows up.
Basically, an everything for everyone business.
You’ll Never Get to Home Base If You Don’t Go Niche
I had a student who’s an energy healer and when I asked her who she helps or what she specializes in, she told me everyone can benefit!
When she said that, I knew she’d created a Peter Pan Business without a niche audience.
So one of the biggest reasons entrepreneurs want to appeal to everyone is because they want to cover ALL their bases.
They don’t want to say no to anyone. They don’t want to “miss out” on building a large customer base.
For instance, if they happen to be a social media marketing expert they want to say they can also do copywriting, web design, ads, branding and on and on.
But here’s the thing…
When you try to cover all-the-bases, you never get to home base.
When you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll never get to the place where you’re seen, heard and respected as a serious player in your industry. A real expert.
When you’re all over the map with your offers and services, people will ignore you and go with someone who’s crystal clear and honed in on their skills and their offerings.
So if you want to build a large niche audience and if you want to create a long waitlist of eager, paying customers and clients, forget Peter Pan, forget Neverland and decide what your business wants to be when it grows up.
In other words, laser in, chunk down, focus… and pick a specific niche.
Check out my companion post with the 7 steps to find and define your target audience.
Which One’s it Gonna Be? Your Arm or Your Leg?
I love what my friend Morgana Rae says about choosing a niche… she says it feels like choosing which arm or leg you want to cut off!
And for most people, that’s exactly what it feels like when they have to make a decision like this about their business.
So, I wish I could tell you something different but there’s no way around it.
If you haven’t done it already, you need to pick a clear and specific niche in your business that will appeal to a loyal niche audience and you need to do it as soon as possible.
Because if you don’t give your clients and customers a clear, specific reason to choose you over everyone else in your industry, they won’t. They’ll go ahead and choose someone else.
It’s as simple and as profound as that.
(Finding your niche is an in depth process and it’s not something I can dive deeply into here… if you want a powerful, step-by-step training on how to laser in on your niche and get clarity around what you want to do, I recommend you check out Start With You).
Why You Need to Hear No… A LOT
There’s another (mostly hidden) reason a lot of entrepreneurs get stuck in Neverland with a Peter Pan Business…
Good, old-fashioned F-E-A-R.
Deep down, most entrepreneurs are terrified of rejection and so they set up their business and try to offer everything under the sun just so they don’t ever have to hear the word “no” from clients and customers.
But here’s the truth…
If you want to build a thriving business, you want people to say no, you need people to say no and you want to welcome rejection with open arms and a warm embrace 🙂
Because a lot of “no-s” means you get to whittle down from a whole world of totally-wrong-for-you to perfect-for-you clients and customers.
Rice Balls and ONLY Rice Balls
So one of my favorite restaurants in the whole world is called Sunny Blue here in LA and it offers rice balls and almost NOTHING else.
They don’t serve sushi, they don’t serve tempura or ramen. It’s an all-rice-ball menu and their customers — including me — just can’t get enough.
There’s a line going out the door pretty much every day 🙂
So if you’re not part of their niche audience and you don’t like Japanese food, you’re not going to be in that line. If you don’t like rice, you’re not going to be in that line. If you’re craving sashimi, you’re not going to be in that line.
And that’s the power of having a lot of people say no. That’s the power of choosing a clear and specific niche that appeals to a niche audience.
It gives your customers a reason to think of you and only you when they want exactly what you have to offer.
It gives people a reason to call you, to hire you…
To follow you, sign up with you and buy from you.
So if you’ve been on the fence, if you’re resisting the idea, if you’ve been putting it off, I hope I’ve inspired you to choose a niche (and if you want to know more about how to do it right check out Start With You).
And something else to keep in mind…
If you pick a niche and you find that you’re not super happy about it, don’t feel like it’s the end of the world!
So many entrepreneurs don’t make a decision because they’re worried about “making the wrong choice” or they think “what if people don’t like what I choose?”
As my stepmom likes to say — “You don’t fall in love, you grow into love.”
Just as there’s no such thing as a perfect partner, there’s no such thing as a perfect niche…
You choose a niche and you make it work or you make a change when you feel it’s time to move on 🙂
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Marisa always a good read and the video is again very entertaining and that presenter just so full on . Now this could call for some serious debate as all true but I believe most everyone start off doing a bit of everything while trying to find their niche. I will talk photography and these days everyone is a photographer . Go back 40 years and it was a very different world as the education material was not as available as it is now . We used to say we photographed from the womb to the tombe and we did .. You needed to get the education and the training in so many aspects to become professional and thereby get paid for what you were worth. Gradually you found your niche and again another story .
Finding your own personal image and branding takes time and there are no real short cuts. Okay today we can join ‘the tribe’ and get there a little quicker but you have to have made some money too or you cannot pay for the training ? Staying in business while you learn and move forward is sometimes very testing and again having ‘the tribe” with you would indeed make the journey easier.With your restaurant illustration to live on rice alone would not be easy and I know it did not happen overnight and before offering only the rice i bet there were many spring rolls and dumplings:)
Running your own business is a tough gig and yes it can be very rewarding but there are so many issues to attend to. I enjoy reading and listening to your visions and wish they had been available 40 years ago and I could have retired 10 year earlier … regards to the Whiz Murray and lucky girl you hang tight …
Thanks Len! I totally agree that it takes time and experimentation to find your “one thing.” You can’t shortcut that process. And, yes, building a business isn’t for the feint at heart.