What is the ideal niche market size for a one man startup to get started?


I have just read the book Start small, stay small by Rob Walling. In this book, he suggested a couple of method of find a niche market to develop products for. From that, I am currently researching for a niche market to start in, and wondering what an ideal market size might be.

I think that if the market size is too big, certain problems will start creeping in. Problems such as support, maintenance, on-going product development. On the other hand, uncontrolled growth can also be a bad thing.

For those who have gone down this path, what is your recommendation?

In your recommendation, can you give an indication on how your market size is measured? ie potential customers, traffic volume etc.


asked Aug 11 '11 at 20:25
144 points
  • I would like to know about your story. – Volatil3 10 years ago

4 Answers


The best way of starting a business is to have an understanding of the market you are entering and the likely customers based on your past experience. You mention that you are one man so I wouldn't worry about picking your market based on metrics such as:

if the market size is too big

You need to:

  • find a customer need
  • be able to provide a solution
  • ensure that solution can be sold for more than it costs to provide
  • be able to repeat the process

I would start to focus on needs you know about (e.g. your experience or people you have met) then once you have a list of needs/solutions you can begin to explore the market sizes. Once you have a solution and you know the customer profile you can then use sites such as (UK versions but you could google your conutries specifics) to get some metrics for business plans:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/index.html http://www.marketresearch.org.uk/mrindustry/qstat.htm Ideally you find the need/solution and know of at least 10 companies/people who need the solution before you worry about overall size.

answered Aug 11 '11 at 20:47
Lloyd S
1,292 points
  • Good advice. I would use market size as one of many metric to see if the market is the right one to enter. From your perspective, 10 potential customers is the critical mass? – Tehnyit 12 years ago
  • If you can find 10 people willing to pay you for a solution that you can make a profit on, you have proven there is a market. – Lloyd S 12 years ago


Having too few customers is more likely to be a problem than too many by not focusing. The hardest part will be finding a group of people who want to buy your product. Don't worry about getting lucky.

  • limited marketing dollars not reaching the right people (you'll have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince)
  • less competition
  • build better/stronger relationships with more trust
  • lack of necessary features to get someone to buy at a profitable price. Even if you know what they are, you can only build so many by yourself)

If you are absolutely convinced you only want a one person company, you can always sell if it gets out of hand. Worse things could happen.

answered Aug 11 '11 at 21:20
Jeff O
6,169 points


I think the first question should not involve WHAT industry but WHO do I want to work with...the education/sophistication level of your ideal client... are they technical? are they business owners? Admins? etc.

answered Aug 12 '11 at 08:44
249 points
  • I don't really understand. How do I use this detail to determine my ideal market size to start with? – Tehnyit 12 years ago


Don't aim only at tiny niches, yes small niches has advantages but they also have disadvantages.

If you go for a larger niche you can reduce the support load by improving you product (read the support request and think "what can I change to eliminate this question") and if you don't like maintenance and on-going development you are in the wrong business.

Also don't worry about uncontrolled growth because 1. you probably won't take over the entire niche overnight, it will take time and a lot of hard work to grow and 2. if you somehow do manage to be an overnight success this is actually a good thing.

If you find a not-so-small niche you believe you can enter and make a good living from it than do it, don't worry about what some book said (I actually bought this particular book and I love it, it's full of good advice - but there is no "one size fits all" in business)

Just don't forget to do your market research, look at the competing products, talk to potential customers and see if you can get reach them and get them to buy, etc.

And remember - the most common form of failure is no one wanting you product - becoming an overnight success and having growing issues is a rare and unusual success story, why wouldn't you want that?

answered Aug 11 '11 at 21:49
1,569 points

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