Setting up and running an online business is challenging. You have to come up with a business plan, launch a website, market your product or services, and manage sales.
But before you can do any of that, you need to find a unique niche that’s inline with your skills and goals. In this article, we’ll step through a 7-step process to help you find a unique niche for your online business.
Step #1: Create a List of Your Skills and Strengths
The first step is to identify your skills and jot down some of the ways you can solve other people’s problems. Ask yourself: How have I helped others in the past?
Here are some points you might consider to create a list of your key skills and strengths:
- Past job(s) or expertise in a particular field.
- The core skills you’ve developed during your working career.
- Were your primary customers (or clients) other businesses or individuals?
- What value did you deliver to customers? Were they satisfied with your offering?
- How successful were you over the course of your career? How were your relations with customers? Will they still want to work with you if you start your own business?
Once you’ve jotted down your strengths and skills, you’ll have a better idea of how they align with the things you want to be doing and are good at.
Step #2: Identify Your Life Goals and Objectives
The second step is to decide what sort of business you want to start based on your personal life goals.
Do you want a business that generates passive monthly income (like creating online courses) so you have more free time to spend with your family and friends? Or are you looking for something that keeps you occupied doing the thing you love (like a freelance writing business)?
It’s important that the type of business you select is inline with your specific goals and what you want to be doing. When you know how you want to run your business, deciding what sort of business to start will become much easier!
Think about how you want your life to be like six months or two years from now. Here are a few questions that’ll help you identify your life goals and objectives:
- How much time will you be spending with your friends and family?
- How much money will you be making? What is the ideal amount of money you should’ve made?
- Are you a solopreneur or will you be collaborating with a friend to make use of their skills and experiences?
- Do you like having daily customer interactions or would you rather be working behind the scenes selling products through an online store?
Step #3: Figure Out How Your Skills and Goals Overlap
If you’ve followed the first two steps, you’ll have some idea about what your strengths are and how they can help you achieve your objectives. The next step is to identify how they overlap with your life goals.
When you start a business, you can expect to face many setbacks and rejections which is why you must really love what you do to get you through the uncertain times.
Think about things you’ve done that got you excited and made you want to learn more. These could be tasks you were assigned at work (for example, setting up an internal training platform) or hobbies (for example, archery or yoga).
Doing the thing you love gives you satisfaction and a sense of self-fulfillment. As a result, you’re more likely take ownership of your actions instead of walking away when things don’t look good.
Step #4: Identify Your Niche and Create Customer Personas
Before you can accurately identify your niche, you need to identify your ideal customer and what unique value you can offer them. Here are some questions that’ll help you map out a customer persona:
- What are your ideal customer’s characteristics? Do you like working with individuals, companies, government organizations, or retailers? Identify the specific niche of online businesses and concentrate your efforts on catering to that segment.
- What are your ideal customer’s unique needs? What are they looking to achieve? What are their opportunities and motives? Their problems and weaknesses? You can also get help from past customers to learn more about their unique needs and requirements.
- Why should they buy from you? Do they have a problem that you can offer a solution to? Are they looking to learn a new skill?
- What problems can you solve? Figure out which of your strengths address your ideal clients’ pain points or solve a problem for them.
Step #5: Decide on a Business Type
These days, starting an online business is pretty straightforward. There are plenty of tools available that make it easy to set up a website, integrate payment gateways, create online courses, and sell products.
- Physical products. If you are looking to create tangible items to sell online, you can set up an online store to showcase your products. Look at the products being sold on e-commerce platforms, like Amazon, to get an idea of how to set up your own store and what products you can sell
- Digital products. Digital products (like online courses and membership sites) have a huge demand and many online businesses are built on this model. The most obvious reason for their popularity is their ability to create passive income streams. Once you create a digital product, they require very little oversight and you can sell as many items as you’d like without incurring any additional costs.
Here are some examples of popular digital products:
- Online course. Creating an online course is an easy way to reach a large number of online students. This involves creating video lessons broken down into specific topics and concepts. And with the right learning management system (LMS), you’ll be able to have conversations with your students and track their progress.
- If you want to turn your skills into money, creating and selling downloadable goods is a great option. For example, you can create ebooks, audio clips, music, or templates. And if you have experience in graphic design tools (like Photoshop or Illustrator) you can create design assets to sell on marketplaces like GraphicRiver.
- If you want to be interacting with clients, you can offer online services. For example, you can start B2B consulting services to give business or financial advice. Similarly, you can become a motivational coach or music teacher by offering online training.
Step #6: Determine Market Demand
Now that you’ve made notes of possible products you can sell to your customers, let’s look at how you can turn your ideas into a tangible, online business. Your first step should be to find out the market demand for your product.
Here are a few suggestions that’ll help you gauge market demand for your product and what you need to do to tap into your niche:
- Go to e-commerce websites and look at user reviews on products and services. Take note of questions asked by people and reviews posted by customers who’ve bought those products.
- Google’s Keyword Planner can give you insight into popular online products.
- Google Alerts can help you track specific keywords and learn more about your competition.
- You can also use social sites – like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – to get in touch with potential clients and gather information about their pain points and the types of solutions they’re interested in.
Step #7: Develop a Unique Brand
The last step involves building your unique business brand and identity. To do this, you must have a clear idea about how you can deliver value to your clients and separate yourself from your competitors.
Now that you’ve identified why you’re starting an online business, what your interests and passions are, the problems you can offer solutions for, and the type of product you’d like to sell, all that’s left to do is craft a great pitch.
Here are two simple formulas you can follow to create your own pitch depending on the business model you’ve decided to go with:
- “I make [your product] for [your ideal customer], so they can [the benefits you’re offering].”
- “I provide [services you offer] to people who are [your ideal customer’s pain points], which gives them [your unique solution].”
The first step to starting an online business is to find a unique niche. Though it certainly takes some careful thought, it’s worth spending time and effort as it allows you to lay down a solid foundation for a successful business.
Let’s quickly recap the steps you need to follow to find a unique niche for your online business:
- Create a list of your skills and strengths
- Identify your life goals and objectives
- Figure out how your skills and goals overlap
- Identify your niche and create customer personas
- Decide on a business type
- Determine market demand
- Develop a unique brand
We shared a 7-step process for finding a unique niche and, hopefully, you’re in a good position now to take things further.
What are some niches you’re interested in? Are you leaning towards offering services or selling products? We’d love to hear from you so let us know by commenting below.