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Finding Your Niche

Discover your strengths to distinguish your business from the rest of the crowd.

Find a need and fill it. That's what Ida Krenzin did when she couldn't find a retail store in Northern California that sold quality buttons to finish the tailored suits and blouses she enjoyed sewing at home. Rather than settle for inexpensive plastic buttons that easily chip and don't enhance a garment, Krenzin started her own small business selling unusual buttons. "I had a feeling other people were as annoyed as I was about spending plenty of money and time making a garment and having to finish it with a 25-cent button," says Krenzin.

Her instincts were right. Through her Button Shoppe in Carmichael, California, which she founded in 1993, Krenzin sells thousands of buttons in hundreds of different shapes, sizes and textures. Her customers design their own clothes, or want to improve the appearance of store-bought merchandise. They don't mind spending from a dollar to $20 apiece for a button, especially when the buttons are made of sterling silver, pewter or pearl, and are shaped as gold leaves, coins, fishes, and Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Krenzin is succeeding at niche marketing--exploiting a narrow segment of a large, diverse market generally served by only the biggest companies. By targeting a niche, a small firm like the Button Shoppe can offer a specialized product or service to a specific group of customers. For Krenzin and thousands of other entrepreneurs, niche marketing is the key to business growth and profitability. How can you find the right niche for your business? Consider the lessons learned by Krenzin and three other niche marketers.

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This article was originally published in the April 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Finding Your Niche.

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