Niche immediately or hold off?

by Kate Brodock on 14 May 2008

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I’ve gotten advice from several people about finding a niche for the new firm.  It goes without saying that niching is highly advisable for a company: get the best at one or two things, and don’t string yourself out on trying to accomplish too many things.

But when you’re starting up a company, in my case a service-based company, is there a “too soon” to niche your offerings?  I’m going back and forth with this question.

On one hand, if you niche immediately, you can approach potential clients with a very clear and specific offering.  This might make it easier to convince a company to hire you, to show the exact value that you’ll be providing them.  Assuming you get clients, it will also help you perfect your skills in one area, which is arguably better than having just pretty good skills in a bunch of different areas.

On the other hand, if you niche immediately and offer only a limited number of services, you might also limit your clients or opportunities, which will then effect your cash flow.  Especially in service offerings, this may make it difficult to build your portfolio or your client base.  Additionally, if you’re in a fast-paced industry such as new media, it could decrease your flexibility should the market or technology shift.

There’s an option which I’m trying out which takes some juggling, but has worked out so far.  On the firm website (which has not launched yet), the focus is much more narrow (I’m not sure I’d yet call it niching, but it’s narrow) than the jobs I’m taking through contacts.  Since I need to get cash flow going, I’m very much broadening the scope of my services, but only to a select few and I’m not advertising the company as such.  So far, it’s been successful, but I know that if/when business starts rolling, I’m going to need focus everything to make it grow.

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