• Rolin

Let Some Sunshine Into your Knitwear Design Business - Part 3

Next - What is your niche?

Welcome back to the third installment in our series. Our last installment discussed ways to discover your style. Deciding upon your style and your niche is more stuff that is very easy to write but may, for some, be difficult to visualize and conceptualize. But it is oh so important to articulate and to embody it in your knitwear design business.

Our topic for this go-round is your business niche. And, for those of you who may be wondering these segments are in no particular order. We are trying to expound on what we think are the basics first and then we will jump into things like revenue streams and marketing and all the rest later on.

For now, let’s consider the idea of your business niche. We can start with a definition: “A niche is a small, specialized market segment within a larger, viable commercial industry.” Whether you are an established designer or an upstart out to conquer the world the more focused you are on your niche the easier it will be for you to succeed.

Focus and clarity are critical. As we wrote in the preceding segments, if you make decisions about basic things like your mission, style and niche you will find it much easier to make choices when difficult questions come up in the course of business. Deciding which niche, you will make your own is part of the theme of these early segments. In today’s consumer environment of everything for everyone you must standout; you must be visible, and you must be recognized as unique or special.

According to Forbes, 42% of startup’s fail. Researching this a bit further we found that the dominant reason these businesses failed is that they didn’t meet a business need. The second most common reason is that the business ran out of cash. These two reasons together account for almost ¾ of business failures. One takeaway from this is that, to give your business the greatest chance of success, you must find a need, a niche, and fill it with the best knitwear designs out there. And, oh yes, the cash thing. We will discuss ways to address that in future installments.

There are a few questions you want to consider: Who are the customers in this marketplace? Are they under-served? In considering this you can also consider how your style relates to this question. For example, if your style is related to and influenced by the Art Nouveau movement, is there a complete lack of this style conceptualized in knitwear designs? Back to our questions: How can you better serve them? How can you unite them behind your product? All of these very relevant questions for any business indicate a need for any business to identify with and work in a niche. Even large companies like Boeing operate in a niche. They make and sell passenger airplanes and military airplanes. They don't make two-seat planes or other types of small airplanes. Boeing operates in a niche.

And now, some more questions to help you determine your niche. Are you a sweater specialist? Or, do you design specifically for women in their 30’s? Do you gravitate towards lace shawls? Again, think about this, research the heck out of this, dream about this and go with what feels right. But, don’t forget that you are doing this to make money so designing finger less gloves made from mohair hand-spun in Ecuador as your only product may be artistically satisfying but your bank account may suffer.

You may be asking yourself, aren’t I cutting my business off from potential customers if I specialize or work in a niche? Remember, we are trying to differentiate our business from the other 13,000 people who classify themselves as designers on Ravelry.

Deciding upon and targeting in, on our business niche is a way to further express the passion that got us into this business in the first place. Remember our mantra – we want to stand out from the crowd. Today there is a ton of competition; having a niche makes it easier to describe what you do; targeting a niche gets your products in front of people searching for knitwear designs who are almost ready to buy instead of casually browsing.

Once you have determined what your niche is, seize every opportunity to point out why your product is a better fit for your customers than the competitors’ offerings. Reiterating and expanding upon our earlier ideas: What makes you stand-out? What do you offer that competitors don’t? Why are your designs and your patterns more relevant to your marketplace than your competitors?

One last thought. In today’s market your customers can purchase knitwear designs from a wide variety of venues and designers. Your customers want what they have always wanted, a product they can trust. Trust will be built by creating high quality unique designs, designs that are true to you and so will be true to the people who are drawn to them.

I will leave you with a quote that fits for this segment. Like him or hate him Sam Walton built Walmart into a business that has changed the way we buy everything.

“Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.” Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart.

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