a way you can introduce an age-old idea to a new audience? Think back for inspiration and then apply modern-day creativity to find a new niche.
Find something that has worked somewhere else. Look for business concepts that have succeeded in other markets that haven’t yet appeared in yours, or try to identify types of businesses that are missing in particular geographic areas. For example, remember when Starbucks was a Seattle phenomenon? Think about the products and services you use regularly, or would use, and where you go to get them. Are there any missing in your locale?
Refocus a big idea toward a specialized market. “Another way to generate ideas for niche businesses is to break off a small piece of a big market and refocus it to a different audience,” say the Sanders. Look for ubiquitous types of businesses with an all-encompassing target market and try and zero in on particular segments with different needs. Are there different market segments within fitness center users, hair-salon-goers, or dental patients, for example? Certainly. You just need to define which segment you want to target and what common need(s) they have that you can fulfill.
Once you’ve come up with potential niche businesses to investigate, you’ll want to do your homework to confirm there is a large enough market to support your venture. If so, there’s a good chance you can claim it as your own.
made up of the 149 million women, or even the 21 million African American women in the United States, Franklin found the sweet spot in the smaller subsegment within that niche: darker-skinned black women.
SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCE GUIDE
For everyone who has ever considered starting their own business, here’s a guide to get you on the path to entrepreneurial success. And if you’ve already taken the leap, we have organizations at-the-ready to help you grow. Here are 10 no-cost or low-cost resources to help get you on the fast track.
Business plan help. Although business plans are critical for success, they can be overwhelming to write. These Websites provide free templates, or step-by-step guides, to get you going: www.score.org/template_gallery.html, www.myownbusiness.org/plans and www.moneyhunt.com.
Chambers of Commerce. For help identifying funding sources or local entrepreneurial services, start with your local chamber, advises Steven Little, author of The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth (John Wiley & Sons; $18.95). “Even if they don’t have a program, they know what’s out there,” Little says. Call 202-659-6000 or visit www.uschamber.com to find your city’s chamber of commerce office.
Growth financing. If you have contracts but no cash, consider selling your receivables to a factoring firm in exchange for a percent of the proceeds. You’ll find a long list of factoring firms at www.business.com, though asking your local banker for a recommendation is another option. But if you’re having difficulty finding the money to buy needed equipment, look into leasing, rather than buying outright, by asking your vendor about payment options.
Interns. Sometimes al
l you need is a little help, which college interns are ready to provide, especially if