The other day I was scrolling through Facebook, and I came across a blog post. The entertainer asked for advice on how to grow their balloon business when faced with competing companies offering a similar service?
A common theme read through most replies of keeping your prices competitive, don’t give it away, value your work, and look to be different or create a niche market.
I have a different reply.
Define what you and your company are good at and master that skill. Then grow your business.
In the 1980s, the personal computer was the hottest product to sell. It was so popular that Sears, Radio Shack, JC Penny’s, Venture, KMart, Computerland, and numerous small businesses all sold computers, which combined together outnumbered car dealerships.
Companies started to bundle equipment, software, and services together to create new products and established themselves different from their competitors. The industry refers to these businesses as VARs, Value-added Reseller.
Jump forward in time and we call these niche markets.
How To Win In A Niche Market
Companies that work in niches understand their clientele needs, wants, and desires. They don’t try to do it all.
The successful niche business will refer more customers to other niche businesses and only take work that fits their niche.
As a developing business, stay within our area of expertise and don’t try to compete on all levels with an established balloon company. The head-to-head competition will lead you to financial and personal stress. After all, the other company had years of establishing themselves and prove to their customers that they can do the job. Many times they’ll tell the client to look at our extensive photo portfolio and read testimonials as social proof. A young company doesn’t have that luxury and turns to price as a way to win new customers. Years later you’ll be struggling with how to overcome a low price strategy to stay competitive with the competition.
I Can Do It All
For decades my business focus has been on balloon entertainment. My niche is entertaining people with balloons at private and corporate events. It takes a special breed of person who can consistently put a smile on client’s faces, deal with the general public antics, and create a show that entertains.
I have little desire to stack balloons to make an arch. Can I do it? Yes, but I know people who like this work, are passionate about this balloon art and have the equipment to handle any size event.
My focus is on how to become a better entertainer using balloons, whereas a decorator is more concerned about creating the perfect themed balloon figure.
There does come a time that one must expand for the sake of personal development and challenge yourself. However, look at these jobs as a growth opportunity and develop your skills accordingly.
Steps To Becoming Competitive
- 1. Define the one product or service your business is good at doing.
- 2. Take that product /service that you do now, and make it great, then modify it to make it the best.
- 3. Step two cannot be done overnight as your skills, equipment, employees, and business all must grow. Remember, we had to learn how to walk before we could run, and then we practiced hundreds of times before we signed up for a marathon. Business is a marathon, and the best marathon runners keep improving their niche. So if you want to run with the big dogs, you have to put in your time. There are no shortcuts.
- 4. Create connections with companies who have the resource to do jobs outside of your niche.
- 5. Do not be discouraged if these niche companies are slow to reciprocate work as you have to prove to them that you are the leader in that niche. Over time they will recommend or hire you to serve their customers.
- 6. Know your limitations. It’s easy to say, “We can do it.” However, it is a true professional who eats their pride, knows their limits, and recommends another company.
Developing A New Niche
At no point am I saying, don’t compete, but compete to win.
Decades of balloon twisting taught me that there are many areas to improve. The primary balloon dog has evolved from three twists to a multiple balloon figure.
For me personally, I took what I learned from entertaining at private parties and started working at corporate events. What I learned from stage performing made it easy for me to develop school, library, and park district shows.
With over 35-years of balloon entertaining, I have no need to stack balloons. I bite my tongue as I wanted to say, “Yes. I’ll do it”, but realize I can not do it all.
My advice is to take what you are good at, become great at it, and network your business. With time your company will develop a style and market of its own, and you will look at those “competitors” as businesses that do something different from you.