A common cause of failure in businesses both big and small is a failure to find and go after a target market. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone and end up appealing to no one, ending the proprietor's dreams of joining the ranks of famous franchises. If you're just starting out in the business world, if you're putting together your first business plan, this is a step you simply cannot skip. Let this article instruct you in the basics of finding your target market and impress upon you the reasons why doing so is so important.
The mistake in trying to be universally appealing is that this market has already been cornered by giants like Wal-Mart. New small businesses like yours cannot hope to compete with these giants, either in terms of price or catalog. Therefore your best hope is to focus entirely on one small section of the market so you can offer products or services to appear in a general store. It also allows you to hire employees with very specific knowledge who can advise customers in a way that general store employees cannot.
So how do you find your target market? Often times it is obvious from the type of business you have decided to form. If you're a caterer with offices downtown, you might specialize in catering for weddings. If you're a plumbing supply store, you would advertise almost exclusively to plumbers and contractors. If you offer home inspection services (like this company does), you would do well to connect with realtors. To advertise to a particular target market, you might start by visiting the library to find the names of trade publications (such as Plumbing Weekly or Today's Parent) that reach that specific audience. Then buy ad space in them.
Alternatively, the internet has made it extremely easy to target your market with advertising. By using services like Google AdWords, your ads will automatically appear on the pages of participating members whose content is appropriate for the types of things you sell. For instance, if the site is about decorating, an ad for new design ideas is much more likely to get a click from a visitor than if the site was about training dogs or traveling.
However if you have not yet decided on the type of business you want to own, this is your chance to let the target market determine whether you sell vacation packages or hand crafted cupcakes. The first step in finding a niche to occupy is research. Using labor and business statistics found online, in the library, or on the street through your own observations, find out what types of businesses are needed but don't exist yet in your neighborhood. Then be that type of business.