The Millionaire Next Door

Apply the Millionaire Mind to a Niche Market Environment

On the front cover of the October 2014 issue of Road and Track is a picture of a 2014 red Ferrari 458 Speciale blasting along a mountain highway.  The folks from Road and Track thought it would be interesting for this superfast Ferrari to challenge “the dragon king” (Davis) who “discreetly rules Tennessee’s route 129 – the deadly two lane road known as the tail of the dragon.”  This section of 129 is approximately 9 miles long with more than 300 tortuous turns.   Davis holds the record for covering the 9 miles in approximately 10 minutes. 

Certainly the Ferrari which can cover a quarter of a mile in 11 seconds should have easily outpaced Davis’ Mazda RX-7, but it did not!  Why?  Because the Mazda was specifically modified to excel along this treacherous mountain highway.  Therefore, it did not matter that the Ferrari cost nearly $300,000, that it could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.0 seconds on a straight road and had a top speed of nearly 200 mph on a straight stretch. 

In a way, the story of Davis’ victory is analogous to many of those self employed millionaire next door types who possess the millionaire mind.  In The Millionaire Mind I profiled Donald Sonner who operates a flourishing business producing undergarments for men and women who are residents of prisons and mental institutions.  He realized before starting this venture that he could not compete with designer brands like Polo, Calvin Klein, Bali, and Maidenform, etc.  Also he had access to overruns and remnants of extremely durable cotton fabrics. These could withstand countless washings in commercial steam washers.  Mr. Sonner specifically designed  his product just as Davis designed his Mazda to excel in a very specific niche market environment. 

2 thoughts on “Apply the Millionaire Mind to a Niche Market Environment”

  1. I too have benefited from a niche market. My wife and I started a side business in 1993 and the timing and niche are a perfect example of recognizing a possible opportunity and acting upon it.

    In 1993 we had our first child and my wife became a stay at home mother. We decided to start a side business we both could work. We designed and created custom area rugs. My wife’s interior design skills were great for the creative side and my marketing and finance skills helped the business side.

    We also just happened to get our first home internet modem connection at that time. There were very few businesses online and Google didn’t even exist.

    Our local ISP offered each subscriber a couple of meg of space for your own web page. I downloaded an HTML (web page creation) tool and taught myself how to create a web page.

    The only picture of a rug I had that was scanned in a digital file was of a rug I created as practice and it was of a Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie style art glass window design for the rug.

    I added the picture to the webpage about our custom rug business and submitted the webpage to the biggest search engine at that time – Alta Vista. It was indexed in a matter of minutes and if people searched on any of the words on the page, our website appeared at the top of the search engine results.

    Within hours we started getting email inquiries about our “Prairie Style” custom rugs! I was totally amazed when one of the emails was from someone in Belgium.

    I realized immediately that a niche in Prairie style rugs would be profitable on the internet. If I had to open a local retail store, the local residents would not be a big enough market to support the overhead. However, as a virtual store, the world would be our market – and that made the niche profitable.

    21 years later, we are still in business and the rug business has been a large contributor to our net worth. It has been a great learning tool for our two sons on how to build a business. It has paid for the tuition of their current college education.

    I have created other side businesses all with a unique niche that when exposed on the internet, opens up to a larger market than a local brick and mortar office/store could support.

  2. Jerry K. – what an amazing and inspiring success story! Congratulations.

    I enjoyed the blog article. It reminds me of the Millionaire Mind’s chapter on selection of vocation in that the successful entrepreneurs often felt like they couldn’t compete head on with the ultra smart “beautiful” people and had to choose a niche where there was less competition. And investing in those niche businesses turned out to be a key influence in their wealth creation.

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