When you’re starting a business, it’s tempting to operate with a “come one, come all” philosophy. You’re just trying to get things up and running, and it seems counterintuitive to turn potential customers (not to mention dollars!) away.
When I was getting my own freelance writing business off the ground, I fell into that all-too-common trap. I wrote about everything from storage units to beauty tips and then wondered why I didn’t seem to be gaining any traction.
It was then that somebody gave me an incredibly valuable piece of advice: Find a niche and focus on that.
I’ll admit — much like anybody else, I scoffed at the thought. “I need any and every client I can scrounge up!” I told myself, “Why would I say ‘no’ to anybody?”
But, after some further research and conversations, that’s exactly what I did. I stopped writing about every topic under the sun and instead focused on what I enjoyed most: careers and self-development.
Since then? Not only has it had awesome results for my client base, my reputation, and my income, but it also opened my eyes to how many untruths people assume about niching down in their own businesses. Here are three myths about focusing on a niche that you should stop believing — today.
Myth #1: A niche will limit your business.
Alright, this isn’t exactly a lie — niching down will indeed limit your business. That’s the very point.
However, the misconception comes in thinking that’s a bad thing. On the contrary, it can be a great move for your business.
While it seems counterintuitive to alienate potential customers, focusing on a specific niche can actually help you grow your business.
How? Without those irrelevant distractions, you can channel your time, energy, and efforts into the customers who are the best fit for your business. In turn, you gain expertise and build a reputation that resonates with the people you most want to work with.
Think about it this way: a publication like Inc. probably wouldn’t have been impressed with my writing samples about storage unit floods.
Myth #2: A niche will pigeonhole you.
Here’s another fear I had about narrowing down: That’d I’d pigeonhole myself into a certain category. Once I picked a specific niche, I’d be stuck there.
Fortunately, that’s not true. Initially, my niche focused explicitly on career advice. Those topics led me to also write about things like productivity and confidence — which allowed me to branch out into publications that were more self-development or business-related.
Like so many other aspects of your business, your niche can be flexible. It doesn’t need to be set in stone the second you decide on something. It can — and should — grow right along with your business.
Myth #3: A niche will discount your expertise.
Chances are, you bring a vast amount of experiences and skills to the table. And, it’s tempting to think that all of them make you uniquely qualified for a wide array of opportunities.
Personally, I maintained a beauty blog for quite some time — making me the perfect fit for those types of topics. I had a lifelong interest in musical theatre, so I really enjoyed writing about that. But, I also worked as a resume writer — which meant career content was a natural choice.
By focusing on just one of those things? I felt like I was devaluing myself — as if leaving out one of those details of my own professional history wouldn’t give people the holistic picture of who I was and what I had to offer.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Identifying a niche doesn’t weaken your personal brand. Instead, it strengthens it in the particular area that you care about most.
Maybe you aren’t a writer like me. But, you don’t need to make your living with the written word in order to have niching down be a wise idea for your business. As counterintuitive as it might seem, narrowing your focus and shrinking your offerings can be the very thing that expands your business.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.