Why Your Niche Matters More Than Ever

The Headless Ghost Movie Poster

You won’t hear this guy complaining about his niche.

You will hear entrepreneurial leaders and other talking heads (Seth Godin, can you hear me?) telling us to find our niche. As I was watching a Twitter feed during lunch on the day of the manhunt for the (alleged) Boston Marathon bomber, it struck me how unimportant nearly all the voices (tweets) were, at least to me. They were all just a bunch of noise.

Why is finding your niche so important?  It is easy to look out into the world and easily become overwhelmed by the flood of information.  You have a product, a service, or an idea that you want to share with the world, but you will more than likely be drowned out, unless you start with your niche.  Take the case of the Twitter posts I mentioned above: nobody cares about your comments unless you have active followers.  Finding your niche is the best way to be heard through all the noise.

Don’t worry about being listed on the Amazon best seller’s list or getting a call for an interview by Wired, Inc., or Fast Company.  Focus on your niche first.  I have learned this lesson over the years. When I started this company, I had grand hopes and dreams for this company to become a large player in the ERP space, providing implementation services across the full spectrum of Oracle E-Business Suite modules. I never put much effort into that bigger plan for a variety of reasons, and frankly I am glad that I did not. Instead, I focused on being really good and getting better at just one area: Human Capital Management (a/k/a HRMS). Although I read this more than a decade ago and can’t remember who said it, this is the age of the specialist.

The reason the niche matters is because people who care about what you sell or say will be the ones listening. It is much easier get the attention of 200 people than 200,000,000 people. If the message is important or interesting enough, those 200 will make sure it spreads to a larger audience.  The important thing is to find your niche, decide if there is growth, and then get in and build.

The book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is next on my reading list, which addresses platform creation.  The platform is one of the concepts Seth Godin proposes in his book Linchpin, another book that I consider recommended reading. I will offer my thoughts after I’ve read it.

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As a general rule, I spend no time on Twitter. I will usually visit when I want to see how a big new event trends, especially from people on the ground.  Aside from that, I am only there when I post updates to this blog.

The Best Month Ever

March 2013 - The Best Month Ever

March had 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. How could it not have been the best month ever?

For the independent consultant, marketing does not come naturally for us, unless perhaps you are a marketing consultant.  This is because we are technicians by nature, using the definition of technician as described in The E-Myth Revisited, the brilliant book by Michael Gerber.  Our websites and blogs are one of the most visible ways in which we can market ourselves and showcase our knowledge.  Running a website and blog is one thing; getting traffic to our sites is another.

When we relaunched this site in August 2012, we began experimenting with different methods to increase traffic to this site. March…it was the best month ever.  Really! Why was March the best month ever? Three things: Continue reading

Naming a New Company

Lyon, France Train Station

Somewhere in Lyon, France, a company named Matrice owns the domain I want.

Matrice Consulting just celebrated our ten-year anniversary in August. Looking back, I found that one of the most difficult steps of starting a new company is creating a good name.  I formed my company name after watching a trailer for a movie; I merged my first and last names, added ‘Consulting’ to describe what we do, and voilà!  We had a name and an identity.  I have assisted in naming a couple of other companies and the decision process is difficult, and even more so when you consider Internet presence, social media, and domain names.  In this modern age, you have to consider all the following:

  • Is your name being used by another company, or is it similar enough to cause confusion? Continue reading

Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek – A Different Take (Part 1 of 3)

SisyphusThe 4-Hour Workweek, a book by Timothy Ferriss, has been exhaustively praised and panned across the globe.  The book is part self-help, part DIY, part romanticism.  As of this writing, both the first and second editions have been reviewed on Amazon.com 2,333 times.  The ‘Expanded and Updated’ edition has an Amazon.com rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.  I have chosen to write a review from the perspective of the independent consultant, business owner, and entrepreneur.  As a critical reviewer, I give the book 4 stars because of some inconsistencies and awkwardness in the book.  On a personal and professional level, I give this 5 stars because this book has proven to be very valuable to me and my company.

I will start with these questions:

  1. Is the book worth your time and money?  Yes, if you take just one of the recommended actions.
  2. Does the book add value to your work or personal life? Yes, if you apply one or more of the recommended actions.
  3. Is the book a panacea?  For a select few people, yes; for most people, no. Continue reading

Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek – A Different Take (Part 2 of 3)

Riley Freeman from The BoondocksA Word to the Haters

Riley: “There he goes again! Hatin’!”

Granddad: “Boy! Stop Hatin’!”

Boondocks, Season 1 Episode 11 – Let’s Nab Oprah

 I am not sure what some of the people who read this book were expecting.  This is what some of the people on Amazon.com have to say in their reviews:

  • “A con artist with a motivational speech”
  • “His shameless self-promotion and braggadicious (sic) style is second only to the undisputed champion of the genre, Donald Trump.”
  • “The whole book is about how to become a sleazy snake-oil salesman in the modern internet era.”
  • “A con man who needs to be taken down”

Yes, the book is painful to read at times.  Ferriss mixes up his message sometimes, which makes him come across as a charlatan and brings his sincerity and integrity into question.  He is from the school of Dan S. Kennedy, which is all about tireless, persistent promotion.  But he is honest, to a fault, which is something that is missed by his harshest critics.  Timothy Ferriss isn’t perfect and sometimes his message is confusing.  Here are some of the problems the people who hate (yes hate) this book seem to have:

  • They had a hard time extracting anything useful from the book, which is unfortunate;
  • They did not approach his concepts with an open mind;
  • They confuse the meaning of ‘rich’, or to use Ferriss’ term ‘New Rich’, to mean monetary wealth;
  • They see only a common con-artist;
  • They believe that self-promotion is a bad thing.

The message is very much about living a richer life with less material wealth.  Timothy Ferriss is a hustler, not a con-artist.  So is Jay-Z and so am I, though they are both much better at it than I am. We are out there working, finding the opportunities, and seeing what works and what does not.   If Ferriss really wanted to, he could exploit this book much in the same way that Steven Covey and many others have with their successful books, holding seminars, giving lectures, etc. and charges thousands of dollars to do so.  I know I would.  He gave the public a manual and challenged people to apply it.