When niching down, should I target the type of work or the type of customer?

This question around niching seems to question either or.

Yes, you can pick the type of work you do and specialize your business.

Yes, you can pick the type of customer you work with and specialize your business.

But, the type of work you do and the type of customer you work with are both part of niching down to specialize your business.

The process of niching down

When I’m working with clients on finding their specialty, I have them reflect on the type of work AND the type of clients they’ve had in the past.

A key part of the exercise and self-reflection is figuring out what they liked and what they didn’t like both about the people and projects.

The reason is simple. Ultimately it’s the customer that you are helping with your solution in the end. You can’t be fully successful with just one piece of the puzzle.

If the type of work you like to do is something that the market doesn’t need, then you have no business.

If the type of customer you like to work with is someone who doesn’t need what your selling, then you have no business.

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Build it and they will come is not reality. Just because you sell something, doesn’t mean that someone will buy it.

Do you like your customer?

When someone is thinking about niching down a thinks about the customer, they think more about the customer as a business. Do they have money? How hard is it to reach them? How hard is it to sell to them?

These are valid thought exercises to walk through, but I’d argue that there’s a key element missing here.

Think about any job you’ve ever had. What is the one constant in each job that you had?

You were forced to work with whoever else was there and deal with any customer regardless of whether or not you liked them.

Now think about your closest friends or who your partner is?

You chose them because you truly enjoy being around them and your personalities mesh well together.

There’s a reason why those relationships last for years.

As a freelance business, if you want profitability and sustainability, you won’t be excited to all the things you need to for the business if you do not like the people who you are helping.

You won’t be able to build the long lasting relationships and referral network with people that you don’t feel connected to.

It’s just not going to happen.

Business is about people. This is even more the case in your freelance business.

You want to genuinely like and enjoy working with your customers. You want to be able to love their problem enough to be able to solve it over and over again for them day after day.

You don’t want to build yourself a business that’s soul sucking and something you don’t want to get out of bed for each and every day.

Might as well stay at the cube farm for that.

When niching down, yes, target the type of work you love, but always keep in mind your customer.

Make sure that you enjoy working with them and solving their problems. To do that, you need to like them as people.

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Important Resources from the Episode

Seth Godin
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