How Do You Pick Your Niche?
When I first started my business, I focused my energy on learning all the functionality of QuickBooks®. I loved learning about QuickBooks and what it can do. Eventually, the ProAdvisor® program was launched. I could now share my knowledge with clients and became certified in all the versions of QuickBooks. I knew my stuff and could now present myself as an expert with these certifications. When a client views my ProAdvisor profile, I have all the boxes checked. There are categories for various industries. So, not knowing better, I decided I would check them all because I didn’t want to lose an opportunity. I didn’t want potential clients to hire someone else. I wanted the work!
I Learned the Hard Way
Looking back, in the beginning, I had to do a lot of research, testing and figuring out, when I would stumble upon a project I hadn't done before. Some of these projects were super painful, and some were super fun. This is the first clue of how to determine your niche. Think back on the projects you enjoyed. Was it the client you worked with that was especially encouraging and friendly, or was it the work that you found enjoyable?
When you are prospecting a new client, can you think of a past project you have worked on that is similar? It's beneficial to use your experience to land that new prospect and tell them. Keep your discussion upbeat and don't reveal the sweat equity you had invested to become knowledgeable. This thinking is another clue that this might be a niche you enjoy.
Focus on What You Love to Do
You can also think about the QuickBooks programs you are certified in. Which ones are you more comfortable with? Which ones have you cut your teeth on? Which ones do you use in the house? I find it much easier to recommend a product we use ourselves, instead of recommending the product well known to solve a pain point when you aren't using it.
Finding your niche is important in a sense because if you take every single client that comes across your desk, you are doing good work but you aren't deep diving in their industry as you could if you focused on that niche. When you are focused on a niche, you can learn when QuickBooks is the right fit and when it's too small, as well as what add-on solution would solve their needs, or even when they need to move to something even larger. For example, take on a small local bookstore vs. Books a Million, and tie the stores together.
You Don’t Have to be Good at Just One Thing
Niches can come in all sorts of flavors, and there is no right or wrong answer. You don't want to make your niche so specific that you no longer get other jobs. If you decide you love to work with bookstores, you could say I enjoy retail stores and tracking inventory. At the same time, if you have too many projects coming your way for retail stores and inventory, and you find that you don't like retail where the inventory is seasonal and changes, you could say that you like bookstores and hardware shops. Perhaps, you can find someone who loves clothing stores, and you can refer work back and forth.
More than one niche? No problem! Along the way of supporting clients, there are several projects within different industries that I have been involved in that I enjoy as well. They are setting up clients in integrated payroll. It's so tricky that I wrote a blog, but I enjoy these sorts of projects as well.
You want to make sure you are the best at whatever niche you choose, so that when your prospect calls you, they get a full end-to-end solution, even if it means that you partner up with other ProAdvisors to fill in some of the missing pieces.
Becoming an Expert
As you figure out what your niche is, you can then market as the expert. You can add it to your ProAdvisor listing. You can put this on your website. You can also write blogs on that topic. Don’t necessarily giving out all your secrets, but provide enough that you can show your stuff. In my blog about setting up enhanced payroll, I explain how it's done and why it has to be done a certain way. I know that other ProAdvisors and clients usually don't want to touch a project so big and are willing to hire me to do it.
Get New Projects
Finally, there is another type of project that I love that does not require any niche specific knowledge, but it does get me work. It's cleaning up a badly setup QuickBooks data file. If I didn't love inventory and payroll, I would not be able to take on many of these, but because I know how the workflow should be in these and understand the time in starting over, I can usually handle these projects.
Basically, I would try to find a niche that makes you smile, and that you can let people know you are the expert in. Make sure you know everything you can about that subject. If you let the QuickBooks ProAdvisor community know you love that kind of work, and continue to prove your expertise by teaching classes, writing blogs and answering in social media areas, work will be referred your way. At the same time, I wouldn't keep the door closed completely for other projects, as it takes time to build your niche.