Sticking to Our Niche as a PwD-run Business
When my husband, Jared, and I first started our online jewelry store, we knew our business was not going to be like other enterprises in the market. He lives with hemophilia and epilepsy, while I am diagnosed with anxiety and depression. We feared that bleeds, seizures, and mental breakdowns would keep us from providing excellent service due to the possible interruptions our health issues might cause.
As newbie entrepreneurs, we sought mentors to guide us along the tricky road of starting our own enterprise. They gave us the usual first piece of advice: “Identify your own niche.”
A niche is a set of potential customers with unique needs, preferences, or identities that make them distinct from the general market.t
Identifying a niche allows a new entrepreneur to carve out a loyal customer base that believes in the excellence of their products and services. Like a “jack of all trades, master of none,” a generalist does a decent job on many things, but a specialist does one thing excellently.
When one is just starting out in business, resources may also be limited. The business owner cannot afford to spread themselves too thin. The solution is to cater to just one group of people.
Jared and I always talk about our business as being “proudly PwD-run.” At our core, we are just two people with disabilities (PwD) striving to make a living and hoping to make other people happy in the process. Yet, we don’t always talk about the niche we serve.
Now that I think about it, this is a mistake. By failing to acknowledge our niche, we become scatterbrained and try to do everything for everyone. We resort to impractical sale tactics, such as advertising to everyone, and spend too much time talking to people who will eventually buy elsewhere.
In order to identify our niche market, we must start by acknowledging who we are.
We know we provide service that’s real — as real as our conditions. We strive to be as approachable as possible for our clients, and encourage them to talk to us as human beings. We know what it’s like to be alienated from society and to yearn for any type of human connection, even if it must come from something as unlikely as a business.
We’re willing to share our knowledge, whether it’s about gems, metals, business, or living with disability. We are mental and chronic illness advocates. We understand what it’s like to cope through shopping! We won’t keep our clients from it, but if it gets out of hand for them, we’ll also encourage them to save.
We love people who love local business. We believe in the power of small. Big corporations are already far too powerful and privileged. Their mere presence makes it very difficult for small entrepreneurs to enter an already saturated market. That is why we make sure to support other local businesses by consciously buying our needs from them.
Our niche market consists of clients who love real conversations, have a chronic otr mental illness (or want to learn about it), and are open-minded to trying something different from what big brands offer. These are the people who we know will likely buy from us. These are the people worth spending our advertising money to go after.
Yet, having a niche also means there are some people we unfortunately cannot serve. We must accept that these people are simply not our clients. And, that’s OK.
People who demand immediate responses are not our clients. Things like bleeds and seizures will always manage to steal time from our workday. When this happens, clients who lack patience will unfortunately have to look elsewhere.
People who cannot understand that small businesses don’t have sufficient manpower to juggle dealing with clients, checking and obtaining resources, stocking products, and coordinating with staff are also not our clients. It’s not that we don’t want to deal with them. We simply can’t afford it (yet).
Maybe someday, if we get bigger, we can afford to expand our niche. But, for now, this is where we are.
We’re grateful to everyone who has supported our business at some point. Thanks to these people, our business continues to grow.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.