It's taken 8 years to work out what my business niche is (and what I love doing most) which as I sit here, is a fairly surprising statement to make.
When I was 11 I wanted to be a teacher like my dad. And I wanted to specialise in teaching children with Special Needs like my mam. When I was 26, I was in a classroom specialising in teaching those with Special Educational Needs. I finally became disillusioned with the education system, and decided to run my own business.
The first business, Daisy Green Magazine was fabulous, but it now doesn't exist and that still makes me sad. But I learned so much from doing a fair amount wrong that I can't regret it. And Sparkle was born from it.
When I realised I wanted to work with other small business owners and help them get their businesses "out there", I thought I had my niche defined. But small business owners are not a niche in their own right. There are loads of us - all working our hardest to build our businesses with our own aims.
When we start a business, we're all so busy trying to secure paying clients that it's often that alone that guides the way we work. Most of us will say yes to just about anything because paying our bills is always right up there in the top of our thought process.
Cash flow. Something small business owners live and breathe!
So we say yes to endless opportunities, some great, some not so great. And through this we learn. We learn what clients need from us, we learn how we can support them through their problems and we learn where we need to position ourselves so our unique offer shines through.
When we launched Sparkle, the driver was always to work with other businesses to manage their digital media accounts. To offer a one-stop solution. Come to us and we'll write your content, we'll run your accounts, manage events, write copy, send out your PR, teach you how to do it yourself, analyse your results; make sure you GET results!
And for three years, it was brilliant. Brilliant. That was until we took on a little too much. Until it was almost unmanageable for two of us to run dozens of accounts and keep on top of it all. As for many of us, my biggest fear is always letting a client down and letting Sparkle down in the process. But importantly, working for yourself has to be fun. It has to be better than working for someone else.
Or what's the point? We have to be in charge of our own business destiny.
In 2016 I learned to say no. No to the client's whose demands were so out of the norm they couldn't be managed. No to the 11pm Facebook messages that went on for weeks. No to people who were rude to us in our own business space and NO to those who actually reduced me to tears (I must have been super tired that day!).
Out of it all came the realisation that what I enjoy is teaching. Training. Learning. Working with business owners to help them learn. That moment when you watch the realisation spread across someone's face when they click on to a game changing bit of information that I've shared. It's an absolute priviledge to be that person delivering that training and seeing that moment.
It's the goosebump moment.
At Digital Sparkles, I now offer digital and social media training and mentoring. That's it. For all of the other services we used to deliver, I will happily recommend Jen (co-founder of Sparkle) because all of those other services are not my thing.
When you realise what your thing is, suddenly you don't want to do anything else. You understand that to actually help your perfect clients, you need to be doing the thing you're best at. And proud to shout about it, backing it up with enough evidence to make sure people want to buy what you're offering.
What's your niche and how quickly did it take you to work it out?
You can follow me @nicolajaynesparkles on Twitter. If you want to #GrabAnHour and chat about your current digital marketing, drop me an email.