Smallest Viable Market


“When the highest type of people hear the Way, with diligence they’re able to practice it; When average people hear the Way, some things they retain and others they lose; When the lowest type of people hear the Way, they laugh out loud at it. If they didn’t laugh at it, it couldn’t be regarded as the Way. “

Te-Tao Ching; Ch 41

This was written by Laozi in the 6th century BC in ancient China. The truth is that this ancient text still has incredible relevance today. Today I am looking at this through the lens of business, but the passage above can apply to any area of life.

You may have heard the adage “if you try to please everyone, you will please no one.” Seth Godin refers to this concept, in business terms, in his book This Is Marketing by calling it the smallest viable market.

Here is a passage on the topic: “The relentless pursuit of mass will make you boring, because mass means average, it means the center of the curve, it required you to offend no one and satisfy everyone. It will lead to compromises and generalizations. Begin instead with the smallest viable market. What’s the minimum number of people you would need to influence to make it worth the effort?”

The book also provides a three sentence template for readers to run with:

“My product/service is for people who believe _____.

I will focus on people who want _____.

I promise that engaging with what I make will help you get _____.”

We should be specific for who we are providing our product or service to. If no one is laughing at it, it may be too general….


curve by Andi Nur Abdillah from the Noun Project

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