Find, develop market niche

score Question: I want to operate a business, but can't seem to settle on the type. Whenever I have discovered a business I want to try, I often find out that that type of business is not doing well. Any suggestions?

Answer: The ultimate key to small business success is finding a niche that is not covered.

If you can identify your own niche, you'll probably do well. We are all trying to do business in an overcrowded marketplace and soft economy.

The consumer is inundated with commercial messages and often does not know which way to turn. Too many choices and too many sellers compete for a buyer's attention. It's enough to make some folks say, "to heck with it" and stay home with their consumer dollars.

But if you find something new and unique, you've got a leg up. Maybe it's chocolate made daily in the old-world Swiss tradition, right on the premises. You can't get that type of high-quality handmade European chocolate everywhere. It's possible that consumers could flock to your door to tase this heavenly treat.

Finding a market niche - which you must defend by operating superbly and providing customer service without peer - is the secret for financial success.

When a successful baseball player was asked for the secret to his constant batting success, he replied: "I hit 'em where they ain't".

Look for the gaps in the marketplace and create the perfect business fo fill the void.

Start you niche search by walking through the Yellow Pages to find out who's there - and who isn't.

Plan how to fill the niche so well that positive word-of-mouth in your community will suggest that your business is the place to patronize.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.


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