Most businesses choose to race to the bottom. They pursue the lowest price point, the broadest customer base and the biggest selection – a commodity. You can definitely choose to go there in business, but it will undoubtedly result in challenges with profit margins, lack of differentiation, vulnerability to competition and stress with scale, processes, and energy.
[Read on or listen to Mike tell this story]
On the other hand, specialty and niche businesses scream value. There is a higher premium to be gained. Think of your own business.
If you had fewer clients paying a little bit more and complaining less it would be a good thing, right?
What if every time you added a new ideal client they increased your profit and reduced service demands while stimulating your mind and as a result allowed you to make a bigger impact?
You would enjoy your business more while having more time and energy to create, innovate and grow. The further you squeeze into your unique offering the deeper the customer relationships can be.
Do the things that others won't do. Put the effort and time and the energy into learning and doing projects, tasks and skills that, very few people will apply themselves to do. By doing this the expertise you develop builds a competitive moat around your business. Standing out in your niche, but then acquiring skills or talents that others do not have will ensure you get the highest compensation for the service or product you provide. People invest more in specialists. Be perceived as the subject matter expert and you will attract deeper engagement and larger sums for doing what you love.
Our 17 year old daughter, Madison, is a beautiful young lady. Strong, determined and caring, she has always been curious about nature and art and the world around her. School never came easy to her so she developed great habits and ways to focus her attention. When there were things she found interesting, she would learn them in all their intricate detail – as more a matter of interest than as a rote process for test writing. She has always had an interest in science. When she was twelve and in grade seven, she came home from junior high school, full of wisdom and excitement to share what she learned that day.
Watch and hear Mike tell the story:
She said dad, do you know anything about niches (pron. “nee-shes”)? And I said niches (pron. “nitch-es”)? She looked at me with kind of a sideways look and kind of gave me the aw dad, come on, really? In her newly developed teenage girl voice that she would use. She rolled her eyes. I said, “okay, niches (“nitch-es”), niches (“nee-shes”), whatever.” At the same time she goes, “okay, well whatever.” “Anyways, dad, here's the thing. Do you know anything about the dung beetle?” I said “yeah, I kind of know about the dung beetle, I haven’t seen one in person before, but what do you mean? Tell me more.”
She went on to say, “We learned in class that the dung beetle has guaranteed its survivability among its predators, its prey and its competitors.” I responded, “Madison, please tell me more because it sounds kind of interesting.” She said, “Well, what happens is the dung beetle rolls up the poop of other animals into balls and stores it in its holes. It then has a saved and secured food source. Yes, they use poop as food. So, they always have this food source available to them to get by on and quite frankly, no other animals or creatures want to do that. Because of that, they guarantee their survivability. So that's their niche.” I said, “That’s perfect Maddie. You really understand the idea of niches.”
When I think of niches I think of business niches. What I would suggest to any entrepreneur, any business owner is when you have that quality, that unique thing or that unique product that you create or sell, you must squeeze harder, squeeze that niche. People value things that they perceive as rare, unique or special. They will pay more for it. Be it knowledge or products or whatever.
By doing those things that others won’t do in securing and exploiting your very own niche, you build a dominant position in your market. Ultimately, we want to be in the poop business. It's better to be doing the dirty work, to be in the poop business with no competitors, no peers standing alone, than it is to otherwise compete with people doing nothing extraordinary, nothing unique and nothing new in a race to the undifferentiated bottom.
So choose the poop business for yourself, do the dirty work.
Do the things that no one else wants to do.