How do I Choose a Niche for my Business?

A reader recently asked us, how do I choose a niche. I think this is a great question because every business – both clinical and non-clinical – needs a niche. This topic also came up at the recent NP Business Boot Camp (get on the waiting list for the next boot camp here) as well, so let’s explore this in more detail.

Let’s start by defining what a niche is.

The original definition was coined by Joseph Grinnell in 1917. He coined the term niche, which he viewed as largely equivalent to a species habitat. The business world adopted the term for its own use. Basically, it means a specific subset of your market – and thus, the product or service you wish to focus on.2

Examples can include the sub specialty you wish to focus on clinically such as dermatology. However, you can “niche it down” even further to focus specifically on anti-aging dermatology, acne only, auto-immune skin manifestations, reconstruction, etc.

One NP that we are working with is focusing her work on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Others may work specifically with breast cancer, congestive heart failure etc.

A non-clinical example might be those that provide certification review courses to newly graduated students.

So why do you want to niche?

As those who work in primary care or general medicine practices know, you are seeing a lot of conditions in your practice. And while you may be an excellent primary care clinician, it’s difficult to specialize in “everything”.

By niching a practice, product or service, it allows you to develop the expertise to be a specialist in that particular area. But there are many other benefits when it comes to growing your business.

  • Marketing your product or service becomes so much easier. You are speaking to a specific individual with a specific need.
  • Your business has more focus in terms of its products or services. You can go deep into a specific area.
  • You can focus more on your individual clients, patients or customers to meet their needs. You are not distracted by the myriad of conditions or problems you might see on a daily basis as you might be in primary care.
  • In some cases, your niche may also define your business model. For example, you may want to provide services to home-bound elderly patients in their home (ie, house calls or a mobile practice).

Can you become too niched?

Yes, but this is where your market research comes in.

For any business to be successful you need to:

  • Create a product or service that answers a need or a desire. In other words, you’ll need customers you need or want what you have to offer.
  • People are willing to pay for your products and services
  • Every business needs to generate enough revenue to be sustainable. Your product or service must be valued enough for your customers to pay for the service.

female-np-ptOf course, this implies that you have enough customers who need or want the service or product to pay the price that you need to keep the business sustainable.

Thus, if you offer a product in which there are only 100 people in the world who need/want your product/service – that may be too small of a market (depending of course on the value and asking price).

You also want your product/service to have a long life. Fads don’t last too long and generally are not a sustainable business – remember the Pet Rock?

Apply this to healthcare.

Healthcare is not going away – we know that. But it is changing. And as a healthcare provider, we must be ready to adapt to changes in the “marketplace” in terms of your products and services.

A small business is far more likely to be agile. It can make changes much faster than a larger organization that has several layers that need to be shifted through before changes can be decided on and implemented.

Okay so how do I find my niche?

The best way is to ask yourself a series of questions. Let’s assume you want to create some sort of practice-based business. We’ll also assume that you are fully licensed, experienced and everything we are talking about is within your scope of practice.

  1. What is our area of clinical expertise?
  2. Is this area also the area or topic in which you have intense passion? In other words, do you enjoy this area of practice?
  3. Is it something you might even do if you did not get paid for it? (That’s real passion!)
  4. Are there enough potential patients, clients, customers that need your services? In other words are there people wanting or needing your product/service?
  5. Will you be able to generate enough revenue in this area?

If your business is not a clinical one, these questions still apply. You will still want to explore your own areas of expertise and what you’ll be offering.

When deciding on a business niche there are many things to consider. Answering the 5 questions above should get you started on the road to research and decision.

So what questions do you have about creating your own particular clinical or non-clinical business focus? Have a niche? Share below!

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  1. Hi ! I am a student of Integrative Nutrition , and am a NP. My career was always in Radiation Oncology and for a short bit in Chronic Pain management. It was my personal journey though that brought me to study Nutrition ultimately. I did not have very many hours of education in nutrition while in nursing school or grad school – so essentially I have just started learning this field from the ground up now. My interest is in the Gut and its influence on all of health including pain and especially development of chronic illness i.e.: autoimmune diseases. People keep asking me what my niche is and I don’t know that as a student at this stage ( as I am still learning !!) I can be crystal clear what my niche is in a way that I can give a elevator pitch and start advertising for clients – should I know by now precisely who I’m trying to help ? Should I be polling groups to see what their interest are related to gut health ? Or be patient and just wait until my education is complete in about a year – see how my interest has evolved and take it from there? TIA!

  2. Hi Millie,

    It’s fine to not know what your “niche” is at this point. Even if you did…it’s okay to change it. I certainly have over time. If you feel you need to define it now, start with your interest, which sounds like it’s the gut.

    If you start there, then the next step is to start to identify who would be the ideal clients for you. If you can get the two to “marry” you’ll be good to start there.

    When are your studies done?

    Thanks for stopping by!

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