What Should I do? Finding Your Niche

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect way to find the perfect business.  It seems like this should be an easy question to answer, right? I mean, of all the things in the world you know, you should be top of the list, right?

Well, there are a couple of problems with that logic.  One is that we don’t know ourselves as well as we’d like to think.  But even without that, there’s more to be taken into consideration.  This diagram from Bud Caddell shows the optimized monetization plan:

Happiness in business is the intersection between

  • what we do well
  • what we want to do, and
  • what we can be paid to do

So in order to find your “niche”, you must not only know what you want to do (which is not always as easy as it sounds), but also what you can do well (which most people are remarkably poor judges of) and also what people will pay for (which even huge marketing departments have trouble with — remember New Coke?).

That being the case, how do you do it?  Well, I’d like as well as you to have a magic formula, but I can’t seem to find one. Until I do, I have a process that’s not as quick as I’d like, but it is effective:

  1. Come up with something you think might work
  2. Try it
  3. See where it lands on the chart
  4. Based on where it lands, do what you need to do to move towards the middle.

Probably you’ve already found something that you do well and can get paid for, but don’t enjoy doing. This is what most people call “my job”. If you’re in this category, you need to find yourself a way to turn it down — which usually means finding alternative methods of monetization.

If you try something and it turns out that out that you like it and could get paid for it, but can’t do it well enough, learn to do it better. This might involve practice or schooling or research in your free time, or taking a job as an apprentice or entry-level position in a company that does what you want so that you can learn on the job.

If you try something and it turns out that you like it and do it well, but can’t get paid for it, figure out how to monetize it. This is one of the hardest areas to fix, because we’ve been trained by our culture and our history to think of employment as the only monetization option, and there are a lot of things that you can’t get hired to do as an employee. Thus people who are fantastic at making balloon animals, or drawing, or organizing events, or researching, think that they can’t make money at it just because they can’t get a job. This website is about alternative monetization options so that you can move more towards the center of Happiness in Business.

Resources for Further Reading
Providing Value: Myriad Options

  • I like this very much. As soon as I saw the Venn Diagram, I just had to print it off and put it on my wall. I plan to take your advice. I’ll let you know how it goes.