There is a café in my neighborhood. It opened two years ago. It looks ugly. It looks totally ridiculous. People sit in a window one meter above the ground. Its interior is terribly designed. The music they’re playing inside is exYugoslavia rock from 40 years ago. Who in the world would ever sit there??? They are going to close it in 15 days, like many other places around the hood. Those were my first thoughts and some not too kind wishes for my new neighbors. I know. Not very nice.
However, immediately after the opening, the strange café became completely packed with people. Every night! And during weekends I witnessed their parties where young people would even stand in front of the café because it was too jammed inside. Two years later – its’ still like that! In the meantime, a number of other cafes around (I live in the center of Belgrade and the night life is pretty vivid) ran out of business.
What’s the catch?? Why did this place survive? They found their niche! Obviously, they found their own (strange) community who likes to sing songs of Bora Corba while there’s one “cool guy” playing the guitar. And they don’t care about the interior. It’s a café in the city center where no one ever just drops by. People coming there are customers that go there on purpose. They know what to expect there and the place delivers!
Upon starting my career, my goal was to leave as big and as wide an impact with what I’m doing. Working on mainstream campaigns for big clients, publishing well known lifestyle magazines, even working for one of the biggest FMCG companies in the world. I was equalizing success with size, impact, power, influence… I was of course aware that I was not changing the world by what I was personally doing, but my intention was always to have a reach as big as possible. It was precisely that perspective that I was judging the entrepreneurial venture of my neighbors from. And I must say, for a while I enjoyed this world. You work in big companies, meet interesting and important people, travel around the world since you are a part of global business scene. A small and unimportant part, but still a part.
But then, a while ago, my interests changed significantly. Instead of striving toward size and impact I started thinking much more about exclusivity, tailored approaches, selected audiences – in one word – niches. Of course, I was aware of niches before. But when you work for mainstream company, niche is everything a bit more specific, that has any kind of a twist or is targeting “strange and unusual” target groups that are not women 18-40.
I started thinking about fewer customers, small communities and interesting concepts that would not lead to a fortune, but it will make the business journey fun, inspiring and enjoyable.
At first, this might look like an easy path. Create small business, find some customers, earn decent salary and live a good life. But, most of us are not rich inheritors or wives of tennis or football players. And it’s not only about fashion design. Or craft beer. There is a whole ocean of opportunities out there because every life and business segment can have a niche approach. Just to give you a taste I will list a couple of great examples that I have experienced, of just heard about.
The kindergarten where my kids are going to is an amazing example of a niche that has had fantastic success for over 20 years. They are targeting separation anxiety of parents and addressing this with appropriate integration program. This integration program is targeting parents. Not kids. That’s the trick! Great job! Some other kindergartens offer (in my opinion) ridiculous services like: 3 foreign languages, yoga classes for kids, fancy catering, babysitting over the weekend etc. And some of them are successful. But hardly any of them has a waiting list for admission of new kids and almost 100% loyalty of old customers. Congrats to the lady who founded it!
Now something totally different. You all know about web services offering sex chats, live web cams with striptease acts and all other sex related services. But in Korea (surprise, surprise!) you can pay online to watch someone eating. Obviously, there are enough people in Korea who are ready to pay to watch someone eating. It’s called mukbang and you can learn more about it if you click here. But be careful and don’t get hooked! Or cooked. It’s Korea.
Third and last example that I have, also embraces new digital world that we live in but in connection with the most basic need of humans: to confide in someone. Catholics can do it in a church, some of us find enough time and money to visit therapists, but what if you live a fast and furious life and travel for business all the time? Then your only option is online counseling and therapy. Or if you are Italian it might be a new web service of Vatican called e-confession.
Jokes aside, I’m sure I’m one of many people going through this transition in my thoughts about my career, success and areas of business that I want to be a part of in the future. From conquering the world, to finding your perfect place to be and your nice little niche. What is next? I would like someone more experienced to let me know.
In the meantime, I would say that the key of success is finding your own niche and taking advantage of a global digital marketplace. Because sometimes your niche might be too small if it’s only about one (small) market.
And just to be clear: this is only about business. For my writing, I still want a huge audience and a big applause!
Cheers to niches and cheers to new opportunities for great ideas to fly!