You may be asking why should I niche down when I can offer a wide variety of services and my customers can choose which one fits them. It makes sense on paper, but it doesn’t make sense when no one knows who you are.
You see, when Apple releases a new product everyone flocks to it and gets it. Not because the product is amazing, we don’t know yet until we try it, but because Apple is Apple. Apple has built a reputation of building high quality products and when they release a new one in a niche outside of phones, people will try it out because they trust this brand.
When you’re starting off, you’re a nobody who is trying to convince anyone to hire you. And when you’re a nobody, people don’t assume you know how to do everything. They assume you’re good at one thing and if they see you’re offering a wide net of services, they will assume you’re half-assing most of them.
The first step is self-reflection. Look deep into your soul and see what you’re actually talented AND enjoy doing. You can’t do one and not the other. You can be 8/10 at webflow designing, but if your enjoyment is 4/10, then you’re going to hate what you do. After all, you want to launch your own business because you want to do what you love and make money for it at the same time. Right? If not, you might as well go get a job in something you enjoy doing.
Are you good at talking to people? Then you should be a sales consultant. Do you have an attention for detail? Then maybe a quality assurance service is a good choice for you. The point is that there’s something you must be good at to provide a service for it. When you’re selling subscriptions, being good is what keeps your clients from leaving you for someone else. Retention is the name of the game.
If you love doing a specific niche, but you’re not talented in it, yet. That’s okay. I wrote “yet” for a reason. You should price it to what your skillset is compared to others and then increase your price as you go. Brett from DesignJoy for example didn’t start off with charging thousands per month. He started low and worked his way up as demand increase. And you should do the same with your skills.
Market research is important because you want to make sure there is enough people in the world that can hire you. There’s 2 ways to think about market research.
First, figure out how many total customers there are in the world that can hire you. So if you’re a webflow designer, how many webflow sites are there in the world that’s active? The active part is important because you don’t want to target dead projects that’s default alive.
Second step is to figure out what their budgets are. If you’re a webflow developer who is charging $2500/month, then a startup can probably afford to pay you. However, if the startup isn’t funded, then the chances of them having the monies to pay is close to zero.
You can try to convince them that the site is very important and that it’ll boost their revenue and attract investors, but it won’t matter if they have $0.00 in the bank account. You want to target people who have money, for startups it’s ones that were recently funded.
The first thing we learned at Ycombinator.com (our investors) is that if you have a question, your users probably have the answers. Not your mentors. Not your investors. Not your cofounder. Your users have everything you need to know because they’re the ones paying you. Its their money in the line, so they’re going to be 100% real and honest with you.
You’ll want to reach out to them in whatever way they like to communicate. Twitter if they’re startup founders. Email if they’re enterprise. Phone if they’re SMB. Figure out which method they use the most often and then ask questions to figure out if they have a problem that you can solve.An important step in these user interviews is to not sell them. At the Testing and Validation phase, you only want to learn about their problems to see how you can solve them. If they have a hint that you’re trying to sell to them, they will change how they behave and not be truly honest with you. It’s also much harder to get a user interview when they know you’re selling to them. So simply ask them “I’m thinking about launching an agency and wanted to ask some questions. I haven’t launched yet so i’m not going to sell you anything. Just Q&A.”
A good book on this is The Mom Test.
This is the step you probably wanted to see but won't do. It's okay, we've all been there. A wise man once told me that the best founders do things they don't want to do. I'm an engineer, so for me, coding is an easy decision. I'll do it all day and night with no problems. But do I want to do marketing and sales? No, I do not. But is it important to the success of my startup? Absolutely. So don't fall into the trap of doing what you WANT, but do what you NEED to do.
In the early stage, you want to focus on generating a lead list and then cold emailing (or better yet, calling if they have a number available). And at the same time while you’re doing this, you want to start marketing. Let’s focus on the sales part first.
Your first step is to generate a leads list so you can start cold emailing them. Make sure your DNS records are solid. Here’s a guide https://www.valimail.com/blog/the-new-requirements-for-email-delivery-at-gmail/ to doing that. You’ll then want to craft 5 different email templates to send. The structure should be “personalization → what you do → social validation → call to action”. Each one should be no longer than 1 sentence, so get to the point. You don’t need to tell them where you found their contact info, that’s rookie shit. And here’s one key secret that most won’t read here. Include an image or video to prove you’re not copypasting. When someone gets your email, they’re trying to figure out if you’re genuine or not.
Your second step is marketing. This should be done while you’re doing sales because it takes a very long time to get up and running. Sales will be difficulty, but it will pay off sooner. Marketing will take much longer, but it’ll eventually hit a tipping point where the leads will come themselves with high intention to purchase. Where you decide to market depends on your niche. If you’re targeting startups, twitter is a great place. If you’re targeting other agencies, then linkedin is the best. Create content that’s interesting, knowledgable, and worth reading.
Here’s a detailed guide if you want to sell to startups: https://www.usequeue.com/blogs/how-to-get-hired-by-startups
That’s it for this blog. If it helped you out, please consider sharing it on linkedin or twitter to help out other entrepreneurs that’s on the same boat as you.