The line “You can’t be all things to all people” comes from this poem:
You can’t be all things to all people.
You can’t do all things at once.
You can’t do all things equally well.
You can’t do all things better than everyone else.
Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.
You have to find out who you are, and be that.
You have to decide what comes first, and do that.
You have to discover your strengths, and use them.
You have to learn not to compete with others,
Because no one else is in the contest of ‘being you.’
You will have learned to accept your own uniqueness.
You will have learned to set priorities and make decisions.
You will have learned to live with your limitations.
You will have learned to give yourself the respect that is due.
And you’ll be a most vital mortal.
Dare To Believe:
That you are a wonderful, unique person.
That you are a once-in-all-history event.
That it’s more than a right, it’s your duty, to be who you are.
That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish.
And you’ll be able to stay one up on what used to get you down.
– Author unknown
I don’t imagine that the author was speaking about business, but he might as well have been.
So often as business owners, we try to be all things to all people and we flounder. We try to sell too many products or services, we try to market to too many people, and we think we need to spread ourselves thin to be able to find streams of income that will sustain us.
But if we look at successful businesses, the exact opposite is true.
Really successful business owners understand that they can’t be all things to all people. They need to have their businesses focused in a way that they’re unique to their customers. They have to limit their activities to those that serve the needs of their clients.
This enables them to generate revenue that can sustain them, feed their families and those of their employees, and allow them to make a difference in their community and the world with their profits.
So how do we find our niche in life and business?
For many businesses, their niche is called their mission: who do they serve and how will they accomplish that?
Some good examples of a mission statement are:
“We make invention accessible.” – Quirky
Quirky is not making service, flowers or shopping accessible. They’re focused on making invention accessible. Not only does this reach out to their potential clients, but it gives their employees clarity on what they need to focus on.
- “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” – Nike
Again, Nike is really focused on a niche market – athletes. They’re not trying to focus on babies or mothers or dogs, they have a clear understanding of what niche market they want to go after.
- “Mark’s/L’Équipeur is committed to outfitting Canadians with the confidence to look and feel their best for life in Canada.” – Mark’s Work Wearhouse
Here we have a company using its mission statement to focus on a specific geographic niche.
- “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” – Starbucks
We can see how Starbucks is saying that they are product- and area-specific.
Having clarity on who we are and what we want to do makes business so much easier. Not only does it ground us as leaders, it enables our staff to understand who they’re working for and who they need to serve.
Unfortunately, many businesses fail to have and share that clarity of purpose. As a result, they end up trying to be all things to all people.
So what do we need to do to find our niche?
First, we need to understand our strengths and weaknesses.
Then we need to be clear about our opportunities for growth and the challenges facing our business.
We need to spend some time to evaluate the marketplace and see where we can create value for customers in areas that can be profitable for our company. This may mean that we focus on a geographic area, a neglected area of service, or specific products or services where we can have a great margin while providing something unique for customers.
Understanding how we’re unique might be critical to being happy and successful as human beings, but it’s also key to being successful in business.
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.