Why My Niche is No Niche
Updated: May 4, 2020
Over the weekend my little state of Connecticut got about 15 inches of snow. Being from New Hampshire this was an everyday occurrence growing up, but let’s just say the few days I spent last week running around California sure did make the impact of being stuck inside a bit more manageable.
I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to come out to California to be on a radio broadcast show called Business Rockstars. With a cume audience of 1 million needless to say actually being a part of this great show was a bit outside of my comfort zone. Since I had been putting off some event related meetings I made the trip to the west coast. Wednesday I took a very early flight and made my way back - back, to Cali - Cali.
I had been prepping for my interview for a few weeks. They send you this laundry list of questions in advance of your broadcast. Mostly stuff relating to your entrepreneurial experience. Oddly enough, my story of becoming a small business owner didn't start with this mind blowing dream or being my own boss - that is just what it turned into after a few years of knowing what I truly wanted with my life. I cautiously worded our mission statement (oddly enough we swear in ours and you can't exactly swear on the radio) and really got ready to be all things rockstar. During my actual interview I never closed the loop about how much I love being a small business owner, and that now, 6 years after East of Ellie started, that running this business is in essence my full time job. Missed opportunity I guess, but there is always room for improvement for the future, right?
I arrived at their location in Santa Monica early. I watched the host, Ken, ride in on his bike and make his way into the studio. I checked in, grabbed some water, and mentally prepared myself for what was to take place next. What transpired was a hug from the host, a great 30 minute conversation about events, a review of East of Ellie, and how it all came to be. And then it was over. Cue the deep sigh of relief.
What did I take away from my conversation? One thing stuck with me the most. A question that actually took me by surprise even though I knew it was coming. The question is what any serial entrepreneur would tell you about starting a business. Which is……. drum roll please…. finding a niche. The ironic thing was that when EOE first started I knew that we needed one to be successful. I took that to heart and really focused on what I thought was going to be our niche - cause marketing events. Guess what ladies and gentlemen, having that laser focus almost sank the company. Not saying that our focus was the right one, but in all reality we got the chance to pitch huge clients like the NBA. BUT it wasn't until I opened East of Ellie up to just doing really smart, strategic, branded, well executed events, that I found success. If you listen to the recording of my broadcast you will hear me say that our events run the gamut. We have really no concrete niche, except we do what we do very well, and understand the concept of branding. I use that knowledge to lead the team to come up with smart and dynamic ideas that keep every event fresh and fun. I am sure there are a lot of companies out there that do exactly that, so does it differentiate us? Maybe yes, maybe no. But at the end of the day we just love planning events. So maybe we don't have this hyperfocus? Maybe I picked the wrong one when I first started?
Regardless, we plan awesome events for fantastic clients and if that is our 'niche' then so be it.
What else did I learn? No matter how hard you prep yourself your passion is always going to dominate the conversation. I tried to keep focused on being a business owner, but I just kept floating back to my love of events. I also learned that I say absolutely a lot. Otherwise the interview in my eyes was a success and a great learning experience for me.
If you missed the show, you can see a replay at the link below. Let me know what you think!