Entrepreneurial innovation is alive and well

Niche markets are growing in popularity, providing new opportunities for creative entrepreneurs to gain a competitive edge. 

Food trucks have become a $1 billion industry, popping up in cities across the country and offering unique food items not typically available in restaurants. The pet care industry is projected to hit $281 billion by 2023 as pet owners continually embrace new products and services for the special creatures in their lives. And with the number of senior citizens projected to double in the next 40 years, the market is ripe for new businesses that appeal to this booming segment of the population.

Innovation will be key to driving the growth of niche markets. Economists have calculated that 50 percent of U.S. annual GDP growth is attributed to increases in innovation, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It’s the dreamers who are willing to step out and try new things to grow their businesses, or launch new businesses, who are responsible for half of our country’s annual economic growth.

One of the most successful entrepreneurs has been Sara Blakely. 

Frustrated at the lack of undergarment options on the market that fit her needs, and confident that she wasn’t alone in her frustration, she launched Spanx. The Atlanta-based company has topped $400 million in sales and has product available in more than 65 countries. Blakely is now a billionaire and one of the most influential businesswomen in the world. She says entrepreneurs can’t be afraid to challenge themselves to find new pathways to profitability, even if it takes a little work.

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know,” she says. “That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

Niche markets typically have few competitors. If there were more companies doing it, it wouldn’t be a niche. What is important for niche entrepreneurs is that you find an area that excites you. If you don’t feel a connection to the market and aren’t willing to learn what it takes to succeed, it’s going to be difficult to find success.

Take some time to study industries that appeal to you and look for alternative ideas or business models that might work in the space. You have a unique gift to make things happen, so put those skills to use.

“Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital,” says Sir Richard Branson, “so that you can do more of it and move forward with it.”

Fred Koury is president and CEO at Smart Business Network