Forget competition, it’s time to find your niche

NicheAuthor and consultant Dr. Lynda Falkenstein is the expert behind Ask the Niche Doctor, a Vancouver Business Journal business advice column. Do you have a question for the Niche Doctor? Email

Dear Niche Doctor,

I work for a large company that is always talking about getting the competitive advantage. Is that what you’re talking about with getting ‘niched’?

Thanks for your important question. The answer is a resounding no. I’m talking about going beyond competing to creating something perceived as truly special, singular, unique, one-of-a-kind. When you compete, you compete against someone else. When you are well niched, you are the only game in town to your intended audience.

Mr. Webster reminds us that a niche is one thing at a time. Another way of putting it: When you compete, you cut the pie thinner and thinner. When you are well niched, you’ve made a whole new pie and the pie is all yours. In other words, niching and competing are contradicting terms. There is a critical distinction because in today’s world, you can’t win by competing against anyone else; you win by distinguishing yourself from them, by creating that niche which is viewed as truly special.

“Niche think” is a very different way of looking at the world than the “compete mentality.” Though no less aggressive and altogether intentional, the big difference is that you worry less about what the other guy is doing and focus more on accentuating that which distinguishes you from the rest of the pack. The nice thing about this approach is you don’t get into the syndrome of trying to beat someone else down to win.

The moral of this story is if you are serious about achieving success, forget competing. It’s the niche advantage you’re really after.

A little postscript is appropriate here post-election. Though the battles were tough, the ultimate winners at all levels – from top of the ticket on down – were the contenders that sufficiently distinguished themselves from the other guys. As crazy as some of the speeches and promises were, I never heard anyone say, “Vote for me because I’m just like my opponent.”

Dr. Lynda Falkenstein, business consultant and author of “NICHECRAFT: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market, and Make Customers Seek You Out,” invites your questions and comments. Reach her directly at: or 503.781.0966. Please note that the Vancouver Business Journal reserves the right to publish your letter or an edited version all print and electronic media.