First of all, what is a “niche?” For your purposes as a young entrepreneur, we’ll use two of the Merriam-Webster definitions:
->a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted
->a specialized market
In business, including your entrepreneurial career, your niche is where you focus your time, energy, and money. Your niche should be something that:
- You’re good at
- You enjoy
- Improves your quality of life
- Gives something new, different, or special to the world
At this stage of the game, you might already know that you want to be an entrepreneur. But what kind of entrepreneur? Do you want to start a tech business? Work in gaming? Help animals? Combine several interests?
Finding your niche is more than just, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s about sifting through your entire life to get at the heart of what gives you joy. What will hold your interest. Where you will make the biggest impact. Think of your niche less as a “what” and more as a “why.”
Don’t panic if you don’t have your niche yet. Keep reading to learn how you can find yours. Get ready to make some lists!
WHAT DOES YOUR FUTURE LOOK LIKE?
Start with 4 columns. Label each column, “1 year from now,” “5 years from now,” “10 years from now,” and “beyond.”
Start with column 1. Think about where you want to be and what you want to be doing a year from now. Are you in college? Which one? What does your schedule look like? What do you do in your free time? What’s your favorite class? Who are your friends? Jot down the answers as soon as they come to you. Write words, phrases, or even draw pictures.
Do this for the rest of the columns.
When you’re done, look at what you’ve written (or drawn). Circle any words, phrases, or doodles that repeat. “Microbiology.” “Volunteering.” “CEO.” “Nobel Peace Prize.”
This exercise shouldn’t take long, and it shouldn’t feel like a drag, either. This is simply a way to start brainstorming recurring themes in your life that are important to you.
WHAT ARE YOU GOOD AT?
This list should include both hard and soft skills. Hard skills might include things like, “fixing computers,” “making art,” “calculus,” or “running.” In general, hard skills include anything that can be measured or graded.
Soft skills might be tougher for you to list. They include things like:
- Conflict resolution
Many of us have a hard time identifying our own soft skills or think we’re one way when we come across as another. Don’t be shy about asking friends and family for help. Are you the sibling who takes care of the others? Are you the member of your friend group who always gets the laughs? Do your teachers automatically assign you the role of leader in group projects?
WHAT DON’T YOU WANT TO DO?
You love animals but you hate hospitals. Being a vet or animal surgeon probably isn’t in your future. But what about ecology? Helping to save endangered species? Or wildlife photography? Or a marine biologist?
Do you want to work with the public? Do you hate offices? Do you get anxious at the thought of running a restaurant?
Narrowing down the list of things you are certain you don’t want to do will help point you toward your niche. Just because you love something and are good at it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
COMBINE ALL THESE THINGS
When you add together the recurring themes in your life with what you’re good at, you’ll find your niche (or at least get close to finding it).
Let’s say a pattern you noticed when thinking about your future is that you love helping others and you see yourself in leadership roles. For hard skills, you’ve led your debate team to state championships. And for soft skills, you are a natural problem-solver with a deep sense of empathy. What does that all add up to? Quite possibly, a career in politics!
If you can’t seem to put the puzzle pieces together, that’s fine. Your school probably has guidance counselors or teachers who can help you connect the dots. You can also look for inspiration from other young entrepreneurs who created niches.
There are online resources that can help narrow down the scope of your interests, skills, and desires.
- From Indeed, the Strong Interest Inventory assessment will “help you find a path that aligns with your personal interests.”
- This skills inventory worksheet helps you discover not only what you love to do, but whether you feel competent enough to pursue it as a career
- A skills matcher like this one is an online assessment that can point you in the right direction
ONE MORE THING
If there’s one quality that young entrepreneurs are known for, it’s disrupting the status quo. That’s not just a popular marketing phrase meant to attract Gen Zers. It’s the truth. Young entrepreneurs like you are done waiting to find a niche that matches their interests and skills. These days, they’re making new niches. Carving out their own paths. Can you think of an unusual but easy way to fix a common problem? That’s your niche. Don’t see any role models doing exactly what you dream of doing? Be a trailblazer. Problems aren’t solved by people who stick to the same old ways of doing things.
Creating your own niche means you get to define what it is, how it works, and what it can do. You may wind up creating a niche that young entrepreneurs after you will discover suits them just fine.
Click here to learn how the Kantner Foundation helps young entrepreneurs by offering college scholarships to Florida high school students.