Q&A: “how to provide value in my niche”

Philip Morgan

Another good question from my post opt-in survey:

I’m not sure how to provide value in the niche I chose

Thank you for this question. Many of us face it in the exact way you’ve expressed, and if you tweak it to ask “how do I provide more value” then it becomes a question we have all asked ourselves and are regularly re-asking ourselves. I want the answer to be simple. It almost can be. “Befriend your market’s uncertainty” is the general principle that covers most situations except the very beginning, where the advice is different. At the very beginning, you need competence and momentum. You provide value by doing things lots of other people could do, but you do them competently, and you find a way to consistently get the opportunity to do those things.

There are some seats available in the Specialization Workshop, and some days left to register: /workshops/specialization-workshop/ This workshop uses experiential learning to help you validate a potential market position.

So, dear questioner, if you’re at the very beginning of your journey as a specialist, do the following:

  • Make a long list of everything you could do for your niche.
  • Characterize the scale and openness of your niche.
    • To help you calibrate, ask yourself whether your niche more closely resembles Andrew’s (https://www.awardconsulting.com/ – a few thousand rural telcom customers using a particular software platform) or something massive and open like “sales advice”.
  • If you niche is relatively smaller and relatively more closed, then remove everything on your list that is in the middle to late stages of commoditization. If it is relatively larger and relatively more open, you can skip this step because commoditization is less of a threat to you.
    • It’s not possible to define when something has become completely commoditized, but the common signs include: lots of books, white papers, best practices, and frameworks exist; shrink-wrapped or subscription-priced alternatives to custom solutions exist; multiple competing certifications exist; and the standards landscape reminds you of this: https://xkcd.com/927/.

You now have a list of everything you could do to create value for your niche. Now you need to prioritize that list by how easy it is to consistently get those opportunities. You’re at the beginning of a journey. The later-stage concerns will be: profitability, pricing power, deep expertise, and so on. Right now, you need MOMENTUM more than anything. In your context, momentum generates cashflow, competence, and confidence, and those all beget more good things downstream. So find a lead source or two that lets you achieve momentum without too much time or emotional investment on your part. What that lead source will be depends a lot on your niche, so that’s all I can specifically advise here. In the middle and later stages of your journey, you figure out how to provide more value to your niche by befriending your market’s uncertainty. You ask: “what important questions in my market does nobody have a good answer to?” Then you:

  1. Overcome your revulsion to these questions. If they are actually important questions, then often they remain without a good answer because few or none within the market are willing to endure the emotional discomfort required to answer them.
  2. One of the questions will become especially beautiful to you. It will worm its way into your brain and get stuck there. Trust that.
  3. Do what’s needed to reduce this question’s ability to harm your market.

There will almost always be multiple ways to get compensated as you do #3. The business model for #3 won’t necessarily get handed to you on a silver platter, but generally there will be ways to gets paid as you do #3. Keep building; keep taking risks y’all, -P