Find Your Niche in 2014
Most entrepreneurs start a business because they’re passionate about something. Book lovers launch e-publishing enterprises, shutterbugs start photo studios (that’s my story), and art lovers open galleries or design studios. But you need more than passion to be a success in the coming year, you’ll also need to set yourself apart from other businesses that offer similar services.
Be an original. Don’t be like everybody else. Look at your competitors and make sure you have nothing in common. If the only thing that separates you from the competition is the name on the front door and the color of your carpet (or website background,) you end up reducing your products and services to a commodity and all commodity purchases are based on price alone. It’s important you express this difference to potential clients.
Look for a gap in the marketplace, then fill it. It may seem unlikely that there could be anything new but the opposite is often true. Look for new technology and develop products and services around it. If you think the Internet is finished growing you are wrong. The Web is a toddler taking its first, halting steps and you can leverage Internet technology, along with wireless communications and hand held devices to offer new photographic services and products as well as market the ones you already have.
Don’t practice on your clients. Know what you are doing before you hang out that shingle or website. Knowledge of your craft and technical skills needed to perform must be a given. Over time, you need to develop policies and practices that will enable you to do a better, faster job for your clients but enthusiasm alone will not sustain your enterprise: You have to know what you are doing.
Treat clients the way you want to be treated. Bad customer service is the norm and one way to set yourself apart from your competitors is to treat clients like the gold they are. The temptation with start-up is to worry about cash flow and the thought of refunds or even giving a client “something for nothing” sounds suicidal but customers are the reason you’re in business. Every product or service that I “give away” to satisfy a client complaint has been returned to me ten-fold. Most clients are astonished that instead of giving them the expected grief, I was understanding and gave them something for their trouble.
The New Year is a good time to make resolutions and make plans for a successful 2014 and that’s why Mary and I wish you and your families a happy and prosperous New Year.