What are the entrepreneurial roots of success for small businesses entering a crowded market?
My husband and I are moving to Central Florida next summer and are looking to open a gym & yoga studio. I am a registered yoga instructor in Vermont and my husband has helped his best friend open his own gym in Vermont recently. We are also both ambassadors for health and wellness products so we know the fitness industry well. Our market research has told us that while yoga instructors and gym facilities have a higher ROI in Florida than Vermont, there is also a lower demand for our services because of the overly crowded market. What is your advice/strategy for business owners entering a crowded market?
Any business owner getting into a crowded market needs to bring in a niche in the offering. Among the portfolio of services which you are offering in the gym and yoga studio, you need to have one or more offering which is unique. Maybe offer - Yoga, Gym and CrossFit together. Or maybe offer a specific type of Yoga which caters to a specific set of audience - among Anusura, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyenger, Restorative or Vinyasa yoga. There are different ways in which you need to view the market and generate/create the niche demand which the market will find attractive.
Entrepreneurial spirit, drive,determination, innovation, uniqueness and a hungry market in a crowded room. You have to be unique, bring something new, but offer incredible value add, excellent customer experience, and innovate with new technology.
Being part of a community with an existing reputation will mean that you have a footprint and already occupy people's mindspace...You will need to break this circle and look at four keys. Leadership, sales, investment and accounting. This is the "Entreprenurial Diamond". All you success and failure will track back to one or a blend or mix of these.
The good business plane is a piller of the success,
You need to have a unique selling point. Go for a niche market. You need to do a lot of door to door marketing, shopping mall marketing, classy and elitist restaurant word of mouth marketing, participate in events that brings everybody together in the community, be nice to every one, have a very good sense of humor, and manage your expectations, have savings for a rainy day, look good make yourselves the face of the business, render services for free innitially etc
Provide age wise Yoga exercises. Also. stress on Body-Mind-Soul integration.
One look at me and you'll instantly recognize that I know nothing about the business or practice of yoga. Keep that in mind while reading my post.
I believe (in most cases) it's easier to earn dollars by selling something folks are already buying rather than seeking to innovate and come up with "new" ideas. Of course, such advice would be easier to follow if you're in a town that doesn't have a dry-cleaner (for instance), but it may be a bit tricky when entering a crowded market.
Thus, you might consider going deep into a niche.
Here's what I'd (say I would) do: I'd take inventory of your soon-to-be competition. Visit their websites and Facebook pages and write down (on paper) the main selling points.
Are there conversations happening on their Facebook page or group? What are people talking about? Who are these people? Where do they work? Play? What and where do they eat?
Some of these folks may become your customers, but but that's not really why you're there (on Facebook). You're there to discover a common thread in lifestyle among different individuals; one that nobody in the marketplace is directly addressing.
For instance, are there a large number of pet owners? How about parents? If nobody else is addressing this in their service, you could, for example, offer pet grooming or pet-xercise or child yoga classes along side your regular classes. Are there ways to offer 'Extreme Yoga' or a more social experience? Or the opposite, a "Monastery" experience where no talking is allowed (I'm grasping at straws, here; but I'm just idea-erating. Your ideas will come from your research).
Don't be shy: You can (and should) reach out by sending friend requests to your competitions' followers (you could also set up a Facebook ad with a survey targeting only your competitors pages). Get to know them in a non-salesy kind of way - tho I'd be upfront about your move and your plans. Again, they may not end up as your customers, but they'll likely have some answers for you.
Another approach for finding a niche is to explore YOUR ultimate yoga/gym experience. After all, if you're passionate about your niche, you'll better endure any valleys you may have to cross in your journey to the peaks (this language makes up for the utter lack of peaks and valleys in the state of Florida).
The BEST approach (remembering my warning at the beginning of my writing) would be to combine these two tactics: Look at what would be YOUR ultimate experience and then look for overlap into what EXISTING yoga-goers are looking for but are not aware they want (based on your Facebook research).
As far as striving toward your ultimate goal, I'd suggest taking a LEAN approach: Instead of trying to encapsulate your entire vision from the start, identify the one main selling point of your new niche and focus on that, with plans to add the other really-cool-it-just-can't-wait-until-later ideas that you have in your head over the course of 12 to 36 months. Not only does this allow you to perfect the one unique thing that matters, it allows you to test the other ideas before spending a lot of time or money on them. Trying to roll everything into one experience can confuse or alienate, and is the opposite of niche.
I add this aside as I LOVE ideas, and I'm personally prone to wanting to do EVERYTHING and more, all at once. Of course, perhaps if I practiced yoga such discomposure would be eliminated from my being.
There is a good book by Adam Morgan called "Eating the big fish". It might be really helpful for you and your husband in your business.
Basically, it tells how challenger brands could survive in the market by exploiting 8 credos (e.g. Avis vs Hertz).
This is the basics of marketing strategy. Figure a need that people have and differentiate yourself from the competition. Curves found that middle age women need a safe and comfortable place to work out. You need to do the same thing for you and your business. What can you offer or do that your competition can't and your target market wants?
If you're entering in a market generally you can go for a price war (you offer the same product at lower price) or for a product differenciation.
Since you say that Central Florida will be a crowded market you definetely don't want to go for a price war.
Before giving you the answer I suggest you to find the right questions. You can try to brainstorm on the 4P of marketing: Product - Price - Place - Promotion.
The product is what you give to clients, it is not what you sell (ex. 'a yoga class') but it is probably the experience of whealhness that your clients will feel.
The price is what the clients give you, that's easy to understand but try to focus on why they should give you money and how to secure the money.
The place is easy to understand and it is the reason of your post.
The promotion is the way you reach people.
Feel free to contact me to have further informations.
Find your own Niche Market! Differentiate and communicate clearly why people have to choose you and your services. Stress your uniqueness. Actively target new prospect groups (for instance: companies with a lunch break yoga - session @ their location) Learn to think out of the box! I'm from The Netherlands, but I can't imagine that Americans are that much different from the Dutch!