Who Are the Right People for a Micro-Niche Boutique?

Dec 10


David Wolfskehl

David Wolfskehl

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Business niches have long been a staple strategy for practice growth. Today, clients are seeking a higher level of expertise in professional and financial service providers. Building a micro-niche boutique in the firm can make you the only game in town. Yet knowing who are the right people around whom to build a micro-niche boutique can still be a challenge. Here are the answers you need.


Building a successful and profitable micro-niche boutique in your firm depends upon your ability to build a business around the expertise of a member of the firm. The market might be telling you what your firm does particularly well. You might quickly identify the experts in these high-demand areas. You might also discover that one or more of your staff would like to cultivate expertise and build a boutique business in an area that would draw in new highly profitable clients. To which partners or staff should you look for the leadership and expertise that can be the basis for a micro-niche boutique?

Who are the right people in your firm to be your experts or the leaders of the micro-niche boutiques you will build? The four main categories of potential micro-niche experts are:

-- Partners looking to re-energize a successful book

-- Technical partners

-- New partners/directors/principals

-- A partner of the future

Each of the people listed offers a unique opportunity to expand the services offered by your firm,Who Are the Right People for a Micro-Niche Boutique? Articles as well as creating a practice area that will draw new clients and sell additional services to both new and current clients. As you should have learned from the process of creating and marketing practice niches, your micro-niche boutique will breathe new life into the firm and create new opportunities to grow your business strategically.

Many firms can use development of a micro-niche boutique to re-energize a successful book. Typically, any successful book will include some predominance of a particular type of work. This might be a specific service provided to a particular class of clients. It might be a group of services provided to clients in a particular industry. Opportunity to focus more narrowly within that area can be very energizing for many people. Adding a micro-niche specialty related to the currently successful book can often energize both the book and the individual.

Technical partners are those who have valuable skills in an area related to the firm’s business that could become a new product or service needed by a number of the firm’s clients. Unfortunately, these partners typically cannot bring in business, so they really are not maximizing their upside. A micro-niche boutique will allow them not only to bring in business but to bring in premium business.

New partners, directors and/or principals bring to the firm opportunity to capitalize on their previous experience and expertise. They might bring with them a developing book containing the foundation of a niche business. New partners, as their book indicates, have probably demonstrated some rainmaking ability. If they have begun to develop a specialty, a micro-niche boutique offers the opportunity to develop further both rainmaking skill and expertise in a micro-niche area. Paired with a strong technical person with the management and customer service skills needed, a strong boutique business could emerge.

Here is an example of how a micro-niche might be developed. You are the Senior/Managing Partner in a mid-sized accounting firm that wants to grow your book of business. You currently work with a number of companies that produce technologies used in several key manufacturing processes. You are surprised when you look at these technology companies to learn that they focus on the oil and gas business and that your clients export to Arab countries. Because you have special expertise in the international laws of these countries through working with these clients, you decide to focus on International tax issues with the Arab countries. When you look at your competitors, you see that many have international tax niches, yet none of them say they focus on the Arab countries. You do some research and find no articles on this micro-niche. Do you think you can own the micro-niche? We think you can.

Because micro-niche boutique development requires a relatively small investment by the firm, the opportunity to build and grow a boutique can be an opportunity for a partner of the future to prove him- or herself and “earn” partner status. This option provides relative autonomy (as much as the firm is comfortable allowing), unlimited opportunity and a unique incentive program for a promising young staffer. Growing a micro-niche and building a boutique can be an excellent way to cultivate confidence and stature in young staffers or partners and allow them to “own” their expertise.

Drawing upon partners or other staff members in one of these four categories should allow your firm to make a strong beginning building a micro-niche boutique within the business. You might select someone for a micro-niche who wants to revitalize his or her career, someone within the firm who has needed and marketable technical skills or someone for who you want to provide opportunity to grow. Regardless of your motive in selecting the expert around whom you will build the micro-niche, a well-chosen micro-niche built into a boutique business will increase top-line revenue, profitability and the reputation of the firm.