The worlds of small business and freelancing are growing ever more competitive. In an era where no job is all that secure, no industry seems immune from mass automation leading to mass redundancies and what your employer pays you never quite seems to match the rising rates of inflation.
It’s no surprise that more and more people choose to take their careers and their livelihoods into their own hands and take a bite at the apple of entrepreneurship. And in the digital age, virtually everyone, regardless of background or qualifications, has the tools at their disposal to monetize their skills and make a living from them on their own terms.
The career ladder that we’ve been taught to believe in could well become a quaint anachronism in an era where the sharing economy offers us all an opportunity to plot our own course.
But as exciting as this sounds, this surge in entrepreneurship brings with it its own challenges. How can you hope to retain your market share as competition gets increasingly profuse and savage? How will you engender loyalty from a customer who knows that they can afford to be fickle? The answer is… because you will know your niche!
Many entrepreneurs carry out tireless market research when starting their businesses. It’s an essential part of any business plan. In order to secure the funding that you need and convince business lenders that your business idea is viable, you’ll need to have carried out a great deal of market research to demonstrate that there is quantifiable interest in the products and services that you offer and that there’s a niche out there that isn’t currently adequately catered to.
Yet this market research can never be a one-and-done exercise. It must be a continuous part of your management style, using it to inform your business strategy and everything from the marketing decisions that you make to the kinds of products you stock or manufacture.
You must also guard against tunnel vision. Your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum and so it’s vital that you use tools to carry out customer analysis. WordTree Amazon Keyword Tool is a great resource for Amazon sellers that helps you to research your niche and see what makes your competitors rank above you in search queries. Whatever the size and scope of your operation there are similar tools out there that can help you.
Listen to your customers
Knowing your niche is a dialectic process. As important as market research and an awareness of the industry in which you operate may be, it’s also essential that your customers have a platform for open and honest dialogue with your enterprise. Whether it’s through your social media, your website or a direct line to you personally, your customers need to be able to directly influence your strategy.
Create a rewards scheme that benefits them
Finally, customer retention is a thorny issue that even the most successful companies grapple with. Involve a cross-section of your clientele in devising a rewards scheme that will give the customers more of what they want rather than what you think they want. Incentivize them not only to continue using your business but to convince their friends, family and colleagues that they should also be using your business and you’ll be onto a winner.
This is a collaborative post.