Looking for the unknown — To fill your niche, you’ve got to find it first

I’ve been conducting an informal poll. Every time I run across people who feel strongly about living in Columbus, I ask them: “What’s unique about Columbus?”

This helps me with our Uniquely Columbus series, which explores the people, places and things that give Columbus its identity.

Nearly everyone — you can see my tabulating efforts are very scientific — has mentioned the North Market. I wish, however, I could go back and ask them all why they love it? What’s so special about it?

Perhaps the North Market fills an unmet need in today’s society for community and connection.


Filling unmet needs

I’ve read up on the history of the market, and that need wasn’t always there. The market almost didn’t survive, like other public markets in the city.

The North Market is getting more popular every year because it fills a unique need for those who want a public market where anything can happen.

Entrepreneurs often talk about finding their niche — that unmet need — and then making a product or providing a service to fill it.

Many of these entrepreneurs can share a personal story that led them to their creation. They find something inconvenient or annoying, decide others might be facing the same thing and set out to do something about it — going where others aren’t.


Searching with purpose

But if you’re not an entrepreneur brimming with ideas, one of our local columnists, Kelly Borth, offers some advice.

She recommends analyzing market trends — both inside and outside of your industry — to discover opportunities for your business. You want to be able to lead your company to the next best thing, while always staying relevant, wanted and able to fill unmet needs.

So, without information, you can’t determine what’s missing.

I know I’m often overloaded with so much information that it becomes noise. It’s coming at you so fast and furious that you can’t take the proper time to digest it.

All that noise means you need to be deliberate about your research. Rather than just open yourself up to reading anything and everything, create a strategy. Step away from the day-to-day and work on your business.

And if that seems too daunting, maybe it’s better to break it up into manageable pieces. If you use 30 minutes every day to look for unmet needs, that could be more than 10 hours of time each month.

You need to keep thinking about unmet needs, even after you’re reached success. As Kevin Vasquez states in this month’s cover story: “Being No. 1 is one thing. Staying No. 1 is quite another.”