Many start-ups are established simply to capitalise on known demand for popular products through the provision of familiar services. Someone setting up a new market stall, painting and decorating business or even an online retail platform is not reinventing the wheel; the key in such a case is to develop and market a unique selling point.
However, for some the aim truly is to provide something very different. A good example of this is Horizon Insects, a London-based startup featured by the Associated Press this week. Founder Tiziana Di Costanzo is seeking to revolutionise the way westerners eat with increased use of insects. She and her husband breed mealworms, which are ground up and used in products like pizza dough.
A clear rationale for the increased use of insects is that, as the world’s population grows, they can provide as much protein as traditional meats but require far fewer resources to raise. However, as the article notes, this is clearly a niche area at the moment; many westerners would still baulk at the idea of eating bugs.
This means that for firms offering something novel and challenging norms, the business growth strategies will inevitably differ from more conventional businesses.
Firstly, such an enterprise will be all about knowing and finding your market, as it will clearly not be everybody, even if that may change in the future. Therefore it is crucial to get to know your niche market well. What motivates them? What interests them? What are the common denominators about them other than the fact they may like your unusual product or service?
Crucially, you should look to connect on social media with your target market, where you can tap in to their concerns, desires and likes.
With something like eating bugs, foodies and environmentalists are an obvious target, but the same can apply to other niche products and services if you can identify issues, causes or interests with a close link.
By finding and communicating clearly with your market through these channels, you should start to enjoy significant growth – and maybe start the road to becoming mainstream one day.