Discovering Your Niche

by Kenneth Gibble, P.E., (F.ASCE), President; Gibble Norden Champion Consulting Engrs., Inc., Old Saybrook, CT,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 12, Pg. 68-69


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Small consulting engineering firms often find themselves working on multiple projects and heading in no clear direction, and eventually quality begins to suffer. The solution is to concentrate on a firm's niche—the type of services it provides best to the clients with whom it most enjoys working. By analyzing project types, profitability and risks, small firms can gain a focus. To help establish that focus, firms can ask themselves what business they are currently in. This is the first step in developing a marketing plan and a strategic plan. While a marketing plan is important, it's often used as a short-term device. In contrast, strategic planning is a process that helps firms determine their vision for the future and how to get there. Whatever size the firm, using a facilitator is a must to get the most out of strategic planning and discovering the firm's niche. A facilitator provides insights and guidance into a firm's staff, clients and business. In a process called slice and dice, firms can outline what types of business they should focus on and which clients should be eliminated. With this information, firms can outline what types of business they should focus on and which clients should be eliminated. With this information, firms can screen new clients to fit their new niche, which will benefit both the firm and the client.

Subject Headings: Consultants | Management | Marketing | Organizational policy | Planning

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