In this era of the long tail, it’s never been more easy to find, create, develop and service a niche market.

A niche is a small place that you can defend and protect from bigger competition who either can’t fit in the niche themselves or lever you out of it. Aside from the risk of the long tail niche – there is a gap in the market but is there a market in the gap? – I was reminded of how protectable a niche can be when walking on the beach with family yesterday.

We were collecting empty shells, and on several occasions we saw some limpets sitting in the cracks between rocks. These weren’t limpets stuck to the rocks in the normal way. They were empty shells with their edges were simply resting – or so we thought – between the folds of rocks. The spaces under them were not deep and impenetrable, they were shallow, maybe a centimetre or so of a recess. When we tried to pick them up, however, we couldn’t move them, even by levering a finger and a thumb under the entire limpet.

Even though they appeared to be resting on the rocks, the force of the storms from the last few nights had wedged them in, hard and fast. Added to that, the conical structure of the limpet was such that even though only a few millimetres of the limpet edge were touching the rocks on two sides, it could withstand any human attempt to remove it in one piece.

When we find the perfect niche, and we’re set up the right way, we can be impossible to dislodge.