Whether creating websites for small businesses, managing a blog, or self-publishing ebooks (or all 3 in my case), being noticed by an audience is as challenging as ever. The internet has given everyone in the world the chance to be impactful, on a global scale. For the investment of time, energy, and very little money (in most cases), anyone can start a business or put themselves out there in the pursuit of success. However, this massive globalization of services, which made the world smaller than ever before, has also proven that you aren’t the only one with a similar idea. Hundreds of millions of people are pursuing their own version of success, utilizing the internet and a similar toolset, which has made the pursuit of passion and starting your own business an incredibly saturated place.
This should not be discouraging. It should be the opposite. If you have made the conscious decision to invest your time and energy into an idea or passion, the best thing to do is jump in. The water might not be warm, but the only way to get to the other side is to start swimming. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but with the low barrier of entry to starting so many businesses today, why not take the leap? In many cases, you spent some time and money, but the lessons learned will continue to drive better and better decisions in your life.
So, whether you have an established business in a saturated market, or are passionate about starting a new one–all is not lost. In fact, sometimes a saturated marketplace ends up offering richer returns through a focused effort and unique go-to-market approach.
Find a Niche
In an overpopulated space, this is a key component of success. The internet created a modern day gold rush of opportunities, but that honeymoon phase did not last forever. From ecommerce to dashboards to reporting to website design to professional services, you cannot take one digital footstep inside the internet without a bombardment of options. Let’s take social media management as an example, a service I offer through Curious Cog. There are hundreds of social media management businesses out there, ranging from 1-person operations to multi-faceted firms. Completely saturated, right?
Well, similar to my focus for website clients, I am passionate about working with small businesses. I focus on small businesses, looking to expand their digital footprint, and make a mark in the busy space their own business specializes in. I look for nonprofits, manufacturing companies, and starter ecommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses. I do this because I am knowledgeable in these areas, appreciate what these companies and individuals do each day, and truly believe that helping these businesses become successful increases my success. My goal is to provide value and insight, sometimes providing consulting services to completely structure their item management process, or advise how to be involved with their customers online. Understanding the nuances of being online can be a daunting task for a small business, but my calm personality, knowledge of digital growth, and ability to explain processes in a simple and consumable way, have allowed me to make a meaningful impact for many small businesses.
This fills my bucket. I love mutual success. And better than that, this self-awareness of my own strengths (and weaknesses), combined with seeking out clients I am passionate and knowledgeable about, have provided the template for the niche I am continuing to build in the crowded social media and website design space.
Become an Expert and Be Authentic
Building upon the passion that drives you to a particular niche, you must be an expert in your field. This doesn’t mean to become and act like a know-it-all, but rather you need to understand the needs and desires of your customer base. Once you understand those needs, you need to become intelligible and confident in solving them. Even better yet, you need to be authentic in the services you provide.
This requires you to take many steps above research and analysis. This requires you go beyond regurgitating information. This requires you to go beyond telling your clients what to do.
It requires listening to your clients, understanding their problems and goals, and then applying your expertise to provide a tailored solution to help them grow. Your clients are coming to you to help them solve a problem they are unable to on their own. This is a display of trust and respect that should be handled in the same. When you are the only company offering your service, this might be less applicable. But in a saturated marketplace, instilling trust and respect–and returning the same–makes all the difference in the world.
Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes
Being knowledgeable isn’t enough. The individuals that stand out from the crowd are also trustworthy, respectful, and empathetic. Empathetic means you put yourself in your customer’s shoes, attempt to see the world from their vantage point, and provide a solution based on their specific needs. Those who stand out in a positive way don’t make assumptions about their clients.
Similarly, no two companies are the exact same, just as no two people are. This goes back to tailoring a solution, even if it requires only slight changes from the previous project. One size fits many can be a scalable model from a cost and time perspective, but the customer will suffer with an inferior result. I want to call out that I am a huge fan of templates and re-using knowledge where possible to give a customer better value, but the end result still needs to be produced for them.
Whether you offer products or services, especially in a crowded space, customer service shines above all else. Trust, respect, empathy, and listening to the needs of your customers will create a relationship that can bring incredible success to both parties. The path to least resistance is paved with great customer service. The barrier for your customer to move from your company to another is extremely low in this modern era, so you must leave a great impression, and continue to live up to your values. If you are true to yourself, your passion, and focus on the businesses in your niche–you might not get every client–but the ones you have will be the ones you want.