October 9th, 2006
I agree it is next to impossible for a small business owner or independent web publisher to be a leader in a big niche. How can you compete with large media holdings? For instance, I can’t imagine myself as an owner of a photo website competing with Flickr.com that belongs to Yahoo!
But if you follow this logic it means there is no place for small business in the online and offline world, but it is (luckily) not the fact of our life. I guess our primary task is to search for niches that are small enough for large companies and big enough for us.
Our next step is to attempt to become a leader of that ’small big’ niche. I have greatly enjoyed the reading of How to be a leader in your field and I would like to draw some parallels with online business. Just pay attention to what a leader does:
Every profession has leaders. In a formal sense, the elected officers of a professional society are the leaders of that profession. Because a profession is fundamentally about knowledge, however, the true leaders of a profession are the thought leaders: the individuals who synthesize the thinking of the profession’s members and articulate directions for the future. Sometimes a profession will elect its thought leaders to official positions. But often the thought leaders prefer to lead through writing and speaking, cutting-edge projects, conference organizing, and dialogue.
Leadership means both talking and listening, both vision and consensus. A leader builds a web of relationships within the profession and articulates the themes that are emerging in the thinking of the profession as a whole.
Pick an issue, an issue to research – another good advice. My websites miss this very thing. For instance, dropshiparea.com is a website on online business from the point of view of an individual trying to build a profitable network of websites, but at this time I do not work on a fairly specific issue in this industry. What is understood under an issue (followed by a list of tips how to discover that issue):
You need an issue that the profession as a whole is not really thinking about, but which is going to be the center of attention in five years.
The issue could be technical, strategic, managerial, policy-related, or all of the above. It could be a problem or an opportunity or both. It could be a new method or a whole new area of practice. It should be fairly specific, though, and should directly address the day-to-day work of people in some segment of the profession.
Summary: You should have at least one issue you are developing in this way. The idea is to help your niche to discover problems and opportunities. In this way you will get new knowledge and skills and build your network.
With time, you can switch to another issue if the previous one is covered or you spot new directions that are of greater interest to you personally.
This approach should help you to be among your niche leaders. The deep knowledge of one or two ‘hot’ niche issues will help you to compete with bigger companies.
[tags]how to be a leader, leader, niches, seo, internet marketing, affiliate marketing, make money online, home based job, earn your living online[/tags]