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Starting a Business After 40: Part 2 – Getting Experience within Your Niche
From Kabbage – Click Here For Full Article and Credits
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed identifying your niche to help you better serve your customers. By narrowing down the products or services you offer, or by whittling down the scope of who you serve, you can quickly become an expert in your niche.
But if you don’t have a ton of experience in that niche, how can you get it?
The good news is: the more work you do with that laser light focus, the faster you’ll attract more business in your niche market. The key is knowing what projects to take on, and which types of customers to work with. It may take a little more work upfront, but your efforts will quickly snowball, and you’ll have more business than you know what to do with in your little niche!
Start by Saying No
It’s daunting when you first start working within a niche; you’ll still get inquiries for projects outside of what you want to focus on, and turning them down feels like leaving money on the table. However, it’s the first step in freeing up your time to spend more energy on attracting your niche.
Make sure the verbiage on your website reflects your recent shift to a new niche. You shouldn’t say that you write press releases if your marketing firm now only focuses on blog content. This will deter any people outside of your niche focus from trying to hire you. And conversely, make sure your website does reflect that you cater to your new niche.
If you do have someone approach you for services you no longer offer, politely explain that you no longer offer them, and redirect them to a colleague who can help.
Look at What You’ve Already Done
You likely chose your niche based on your past experience, in which case, you should already have a small portfolio of work to start with. Highlight results your work has garnered on your website so people know you have experience with this niche.
It’s also a good idea to reach out to past clients to let them know you’re focusing exclusively on the types of work they’ve hired you for in the past. Knowing this may spur them to hire you for additional projects or let others in their field know. Don’t be shy about asking them to refer you to others in that industry who you may be able to help with your services. After all, word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to attract new business!
Consider Pro Bono Work
If you’re simply not attracting the kinds of work you want to in your niche, look to companies you could offer free work to in an effort to build up your portfolio. The benefit to working for brands for free, in addition to adding to your proof of skills, is that you can pick the brains of the exact types of people you want to hire you. Getting free advice from them is priceless, and will help you learn to market to that audience (something we’ll discuss in Part 3 of this series). Heck, the companies you provide free work to might end up hiring you in the long run if you do a stellar job!
Look for Gaps to Fill
Even in a niche, you may have competitors. Spend some time reading blog content and books, as well as browsing the competitions’ offerings to see what’s missing. Because you have a unique perspective, as well as your own experience, you might see right away that no one, for example, is offering experiential marketing for tech companies. If you have experience doing this, you can make that your focus.
By working around what other businesses are already offering and finding your own niche services, you can quickly ramp up your skills as more and more people come to you for what they can’t get anywhere else.
Write to Learn
While it doesn’t provide experience in your niche directly, regularly writing content on your niche will make you smarter on the subject and show off your thought leadership skills. Writing blog content on your own blog as well as guest blogging on sites that attract your customer will help you leverage your knowledge, as well as sharpen your understanding of your niche.
You might go on with your writing, if you aspire to be an author (another fantastic marketing tactic). First, research to see what, if any, books already exist on your niche. The more specialized your niche, the fewer books there will be, leaving you with ample opportunity to flex your expertise as an author. Make your book really insightful and useful to your target audience, and you literally will be able to say you wrote the book on [your subject]!
The more you work on projects in your niche, the more you will attract, just like the Law of Attraction says. Like certainly does attract like!