The other day I was trading emails with a potential client who was struggling to find a profitable niche for his coaching/consulting business. He had been testing the waters but feared he wasn’t doing something right. That he was missing some secret step that would magically tell him if his business idea truly had wings.
I wanted to share what I shared with him, because I know he’s not alone. I believe many people think there must be a magic formula or secret step to uncovering whether or not the idea they have for a business is one that can actually make them money.
In all my years in business, here’s the secret I’ve uncovered.
You must go out and research and/or test the market.
Researching the market.
Research means finding out if the market you intend to serve, and sell to, is already paying for help solving the same problem you intend to solve.
Are they already hiring coaches or consultants, paying for training or classes, paying to attend conferences or seminars, buying products or services, or paying for help in some other way?
This is KEY.
It’s not enough that the market needs the help, or that you believe they need it. They must want it AND be willing to pay for it.
If it’s a robust market where people are already investing in help, there’s a good chance you can succeed if you can find a way to stand out, be different, and connect with them.
When I started my marketing consulting business in 1998, my research consisted of what I had learned working in my previous job. I had first-hand knowledge that there were clients who needed marketing services but didn’t have the budget required to work with a large agency. I knew I could offer the same services at a lower price, by operating a virtual marketing agency out of my home and subcontracting for services for clients on an as-needed basis. Lower overhead meant lower prices these smaller businesses could afford. And my network of experienced freelancers meant I could offer the same high-level services.
Bottom-line: I saw a need and I filled it.
You can also do research by doing informational interviews within the industry to see if people are already paying for, or are willing to pay for, the services you plan to offer.
Just keep in mind, often people say they will pay for something and then when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is, they don’t always follow through (it’s easier to say you’re going to do something than do it).
Testing the market.
You can test the market by going out and offering your services to the market and seeing if anyone bites.
You can do this in a variety of ways including speaking to a group of your ideal clients and making an offer, meeting your ideal clients at networking events and making offers, running ads to see if anyone responds, or any other way you can find to quickly and inexpensively get out in front of your market and make an offer.
There’s no magic or secret sauce involved here. And it’s not usually something that someone else can do for you. You just need to be willing to do some legwork, poke around a bit, and test the waters.
Those are the only two ways I know to find out if the niche or business you’ve chosen is viable.
That’s why I counsel my clients to put together a program and a message and then just get out there and test it, BEFORE investing a lot of time and money building an entire business, website, etc.
If you can get a few clients you know you have a viable business, and then you can invest in the rest.
If you can’t get a few clients by just getting out there and beating the bushes, it usually means one of two things: Either you don’t have a viable business, or you aren’t that committed to doing whatever it takes to make it work.