One thing will send me into a full-on rant: Calling Chairman Mom—or any business aimed at women or families generally—a “niche” business. It pisses me off for two reasons: The first is half the f*****g population isn’t a f*****g niche unless you are a misogynist and don’t think women count as full people somehow.
The second is NEARLY EVERY HOT CONSUMER STARTUP I’VE EVER COVERED IN TWENTY YEARS AS A JOURNALIST STARTED WITH A NARROWLY DEFINED CUSTOMER. Uber with affluent wannabe “ballers” in San Francisco. Facebook with college kids. LinkedIn with VCs and startup folks in the Bay Area. But somehow when a male founder does it, it’s not considered a negative.
Gina Bianchini—one of my favorite truth talkers in the startup world—and the founder of Mighty Networks has an awesome LinkedIn post about how finding your niche and zeroing in on your ideal customer is the most important first step to a business…And one many founders overlook. In fact, Gina once overlooked it. From her piece:
“My investors and advisors kept asking me—politely at first—who’s the customer for this? Do you know what market you’re going to focus on first?
Sure, I knew it would be slightly better to focus on one type of customer to start, but what if I picked an initial market that cut off my options later? I certainly didn’t want to limit my potential and miss the opportunity to have the entire world fall in love with my idea.
I’d been here before and it worked to stay general. Why wouldn’t it work again? At some point, if I needed to focus on one customer, I’d just sit down and figure it out. How hard would that be?
Fast forward to me staring at my computer screen for the ninth hour of surfing dictionary.com, synonym.com, and business name generators. I had launched my product to the quiet sound of no one caring, and now I was in trouble.
I had built it and no one came.
I could have stopped there, blamed the product, and given up. But I knew I had something valuable. What I was missing was identifying the specific person who needed it most right now.”
I fist-bumped my way (to no one) through the entire piece. If you are building a company, go read it now and check out her new tool to help companies define their niche.