New business applications increased 24% in the first year of the pandemic according to the Economic Innovation Group. However, as a result, it’s continuing to get harder and harder to stand out in the entrepreneurial world.
“When we try to do ‘all the things’ as entrepreneurs, we end up not doing any of them very well,” says Steph West, who found her superniche as a social skills coach for neurodiverse kids and teens. After more than a decade as a specialist in the public education system, she started her own thriving business in San Antonio, Texas. “When you work in a very specific zone of genius, you can have a stronger impact,” says West. It’s also more lucrative. West currently makes more through her own company, Starfish Social Club, than she did in the public school system.
If you have aspirations of finding your superniche, ask yourself these questions.
1. Where Is The Model Broken?
Start to become aware of your daily routine, and you can be sure you’ll notice a time when you are “making do” with a product, service or system that isn’t really providing a proper solution. As humans, we tend to adapt quickly and put up with small annoyances, but these are areas for innovation.
“In my situation, teachers were being asked and expected to teach social skills to autistic students without having the knowledge, desire, or sometimes even the mindset to be able to do so successfully,” says West. “There was an overall feeling of kids not making progress, but no real solution to address either the employee or the customer challenge.”
To find the broken parts of your industry, West suggests asking yourself some key questions, like:
- What are the pain points in your industry that don’t ever get addressed?
- What things do current customers complain about?
- How do current companies in the industry fill in the blanks: “I wish we could ______, but ________”.
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“Write down your answers to all these questions,” says West. “They’re a roadmap to finding a superniche for yourself. The more specific you can get with your solutions, the more you will stand out as having a superniche in your industry.
2. How Can You Cut Out The Middleman?
Some of the most innovative companies cut out the middleman and were able to serve their customers more intimately. Amazon cut out bookstores, Carvana cut out the car salesman. While West began her business teaching teachers how to support kids on the spectrum she realized it wasn’t always successful–so she cut out the teachers.
“Since I was the expert, working directly with kids was the only way to make sure the kids were getting the best results possible,” says West. “Also, my reach was so small working within the school system. I could only cover one school district in my state. So I figured out how I could do this on a national scale in person and online.”
By cutting out the middleman, West was able to niche down even further to whom she served. Now it wasn’t the teachers and the kids anymore, it was simply the kids. Think about how you can drill down even further to make an impact in your superniche.
3. What Could You Achieve If You Could Break The Rules?
West realized that all of the restrictions and red tape of the public school system were holding her back from making an impact. You might feel like your hands are tied at your day job or as a contractor due to what you are/aren’t allowed to say to customers, people you’re not allowed to work with, limited company resources or something else.
“Most rules are the result of a belief regarding a lack of time, money, and/or talent,” says West. “When you go out on your own, you are now the talent, you are willing to invest your time, and you realize that money is everywhere. All the supposed rules disappear.”
Go back to thinking about those broken models in your field and the middlemen in the way of getting things done. Imagine what outcomes you could achieve if you had the freedom to pursue a rule-breaking solution to the top challenges in your industry. “On your road to finding your superniche, you may identify the ways you could be a disruptor or trailblazer in your industry,” says West.