Small Business: Running and Marketing a Niche Business

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Small Business and Side Hustles - a Library U newsletter

The "Small Business and Side Hustles" newsletter connects you to Library and community resources and programs to help you start or build your business! In December, we're talking about running a niche business or how to pivot an existing business to cater to a niche market.

For Noel Michael, niche is the name of the game! We spoke with the Jax native and CEO of Bello Boopie, Inc., who shared his insights on owning a niche business.

Bello Boopie's humble beginnings began in 1970 with the establishment of Things Very Special, an appointment-only, home-based business. When the business changed ownership in 2015, Things Very Special went under a major transformation.

#Interview with a Local Business Owner

  1. What business book you would recommend or what book do you wish you had when you started your business? This is a complicated answer, as the business I own was established in 1967 and has been owned and operated by two other Jacksonville natives. I switched from being an employee of the business to now being the third owner. But we continued the tradition; I was also born and raised in Jacksonville! When I bought the business, one book that spurred on a drastic change - not only in the business model, but the business name - was The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham1. There's a piece of advice in the book that I now live by: "Operators react and sweat, Owners think and plan." It changed us from being a struggling local business to a successful business that weathered the pandemic closures. 
  2. What advice would you give someone starting a business in Jacksonville? There are quite a few I have learned and lived by. The first piece of advice that was handed down to me is: "You can replace everything, but you cannot replace your reputation." Items can be replaced and reordered, but reputation cannot. The second one is "Be prepared to pivot." When I work with artisans at Coconut Barrel, The Artisan Market in St. Augustine, I use the word "pivot" quite a bit. If something they are creating to sell isn't working, I advise them to look at what other things they have in their arsenal that they can create. A prime example of this is my business. For over 40 years, we were formal invitations and personalized stationery. When business slowed down rapidly, I decided to switch from formal to funny. The current market is not so fond of stuffy stationery, and would rather find humor. We are paper experts, we just pivoted to what shoppers want. The last piece of advice is to not only collect but also utilize data. Numbers are gold in the business world, as they help us track trends.
  3. What advice do you have on running a niche business? Be a sponge! Others have been successful at running niche businesses, and they are more than willing to share their knowledge. In 2019, a few vendors at Riverside Arts Market encouraged me to apply to the market. The next three months were spent picking their brain, observing their techniques, and asking tons of questions. Through their mentorship, I was accepted at Riverside Arts Market. In 2021, I won the inaugural Riverside Arts Market Maker of the Year through my mentorship of other vendors and contributions to helping those vendors weather the pandemic closures. 

1Note: You can read a summary of The Road Less Stupid for free on hoopla Digital.


#Books We Recommend

Niche, Please! By Skylar Irvine

TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram. These words are enough to strike fear in the heart of any established business owner over 35. But there's good news for entrepreneurs overwhelmed by social trends in digital media: you don't have to be an expert in every platform, change your business model, or hire a marketing intern. In Niche, Please! How to Narrow Your Focus and Grow Your Small Business with Social Media, Skylar Irvine shows you how to adapt your marketing strategy, meaningfully connect with your customers, and focus on the platform that drives results.

Designing Experiences by Robert J. Rossman

In an increasingly experience-driven economy, companies that deliver great experiences thrive, and those that do not die. Yet many organizations face difficulties implementing a vision of delivering experiences beyond the provision of goods and services. Because experience design concepts and approaches are spread across multiple, often disconnected disciplines, there wasn't a book that succinctly explained it for aspiring professionals. That is, until now! J. Robert Rossman and Mathew D. Duerden provide a framework of experience types, explaining people’s engagement with products and services and what makes experiences personal and fulfilling.

How To Create A Category As A Small e Entrepeneur by Christopher Lochhead

In this “mini-book,” you will learn the 7 ways small “e” entrepreneurs (solopreneurs, small business owners, consultants, advisors, freelancers, etc.) can become known for a niche they own. Each of these are areas of opportunity for you to execute a "No Ocean Strategy," meaning you CREATE something in the world that previously did not exist. And the more of these “niche down” opportunities you bring together, the more different you are and the more difficult it becomes for someone else to “do what you do.”

#Featured Resources

#Learn FREE with LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning logo

Try out LinkedIn Learning, a leading online learning platform that helps anyone learn business, software, technology, and creative skills to achieve their goals. All you need is your library card and PIN to enjoy unlimited FREE access to 16,000+ on-demand courses.

Using the LinkedIn Learning mobile app?
The Library ID (case sensitive) is: jaxpubliclibrary.


#Courses We Recommend

First Five Things You Have to Do to Start a Business as a Creator

First Five Things You Have to Do to Start a Business as a Creator by CreatorUp. Are you ready to turn your creative interests into your next career move? This brief course gives you an overview of what you need to get your business started. Learn how to establish your business as an entity, including setting up a DBA and a registered agent. Find out how to set up and secure bank accounts, taxes, an EIN, and business credit for your business. Explore how to brand your business, and discover how prospecting, lead generation, a good support team, and solid financial management can set up your business for success.

#Get inspired with stories on Kanopy

kanopy logo

Stream the world’s best films and award-winning documentaries instantly and for free with Kanopy from your library! Watch on your computer, download the mobile app or stream directly on your TV. You'll receive 18 tickets a month, which reset on the first day of the month. 



#Videos We Recommend

Burt's Buzz (2013 film)

Journey into the remarkable double life of Burt Shavitz, a reclusive beekeeper who reluctantly becomes one of the world's most recognizable brand identities.

The Donut King (2020 film)

An immigrant story with a (glazed) twist, THE DONUT KING follows the journey of Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy, who arrived in California in the 1970s and, through a mixture of diligence and luck, built a multi-million dollar donut empire up and down the West Coast.

Crafting a Nation (2013 film)

In 2012, as the craft beer movement was sweeping the country, a team of visionary young filmmakers with a passion for film and craft beer, set out to tell the story of how the American Dream is alive and well. Crafting A Nation profiles a wide range of breweries - including some of the most established craft breweries in the nation.


#FREE Workshops

Life Lit logoConscious Consumption on January 16 at 6:30 p.m. at South Mandarin Branch Library. 

Are you a conscious consumer? Are you more aware of how your consumer choices affect the environment? This one-hour workshop will cover the idea behind being a conscious consumer as well as ways to go from a make-take-dispose mindset to developing more rethink-redesign-reuse habits.


Life Lit logoEntrepreneurship Basics with EY on January 23 at 6 p.m. at West Branch Library. 

Are you ready to become an entrepreneur? Do you want to measure your entrepreneurial mindset? This one-hour workshop will cover the basics of entrepreneurship and help you activate your inner entrepreneur! No need to bring anything but yourself to participate!


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