Ep 9 – 12 Ways a Smart Coaching Niche Empowers You

This episode is part of my Smart & Profitable Niche Series. Hey, I know I’ve been talking a lot of coaching niches in my podcast so far.

And I know that topic might make you groan … because it’s so hard to figure out on your own.

But let me clue you in to my strategy in focusing on this topic for a while.

  • 93% of coaches struggle with choosing a smart & profitable niche. It’s a big issue.

Do you have to choose a coaching niche? No.

Some say let your niche find you.

You can just float around, stay a generalist, coach all sorts of people about all sorts of topics.

I think that’s a good way to go if you haven’t consciously chosen to become an entrepreneur. You’re just trying this coaching skill set on. You don’t expect to earn much. You just love the process.

But if you want to leave your current job and make coaching your job … if you’re serious about being your own boss and being the director of your career why not give yourself all the advantages and take the time to niche your coaching business in a smart and profitable way?

It’s a strategic approach, and an internal shift as well, away from thinking like practitioner to becoming an entrepreneur. Treating your business as a living entity that grows and changes with you over time.

I’m about to illustrate the advantages that come with focusing your business on a unique audience and niche. And notice how one advantage leads to another.

One smart decision makes everything easier and empowers you for long term success and exciting turning points in your business and life that you can’t even imagine yet.

First a quick suggestion … if you are agonizing over your coaching niche fill out an application for FREE On Air Coaching.

The way On Air Coaching works is you and I have a private business coaching session that’s recorded and later that session is aired as an episode in this podcast series.

On Air Coaching is perfect for you if you are a trained coach who hasn’t yet landed your own profitable coaching niche.

It’s okay if you haven’t done anything yet to build your business.

It’s equally okay if you’ve tried one or more niches and, for whatever reason, it’s not working for you.

In our session I’ll ask you questions to uncover possibilities. We’ll identify a fantastic target audience for you, and brainstorm what they most want and how to apply your gifts and skills to help them get it.

Knowing your audience and niche will give you a profound sense of direction and focus for you coaching business.

So apply for On Air Coaching on my website at prosperouscoach.com/8.

I’d love to work with you.

Now let’s roll out this cascade of benefits you experience when you do choose a smart and profitable niche and focus your attention on one target audience:

#1 You Have a Solid Direction and Focus

I remember when I started coaching without a niche how aimless and lost I felt. Every day was a head scratch. My brain searching around for purchase. What should I do?

First, I went to friends and family to convince them to hire me — the low hanging fruit. But those clients didn’t stay long. And I didn’t have the heart to charge them much.

I also noticed how hard it was to get them to focus. They brought weak agendas. There wasn’t a clear enough goal or a big enough why. It was as if my lack of focus didn’t inspire them to commit to serious process or changes.

I came away with some fluffy testimonials about the value of my coaching but little sense of true impact.

After exhausting people I knew, I palpably experienced that uncomfortable sensation of having to beat the bushes to flush out potential clients.

My marketing was pitiful but I worked so hard trying to interest people in coaching.

Having a solid niche replaced that aimless, listless feeling with certainty and focus.

#2 Your Message Stands Out and Grabs Attention

It’s not easy to get attention these days. Humans are more distracted than ever.

We flop around social media and websites in a trance. The only thing that breaks that trance is relevance.

Have you noticed how much of the same message is out there and how quickly you skip over it?

But when someone hits a hot button for you, you snap to attention.

How do we as coaches hit the hot button in our messaging?

It’s not going to be by talking about coaching. Because only coaches and wanna-be coaches pay attention to those messages.

What is personally relevant to you is not personally relevant to everyone.

Our brains in a constant state of overwhelm only hone in on specific words, specific problems, specific desires that are urgent to us.

When you focus your business around a smart niche with a unique target audience suddenly you’re able to speak with relevance about what those people care about.

Relevance is how your message gets noticed, liked, shared.

#3 You Know What to Do Each Day

Because you’ve focused your attention on a unique target audience and found out their urgent challenges and desires, the spotlight comes off of you onto them.

And suddenly, marketing is no longer the big scary.

You know what to do.

And if you need help learning what to do, the money you spend on training applies now, because you are 100% clear about your audience and niche.

Suddenly, you have the understanding about where to go to find these people and the courage to speak in a way that attracts them.

You know what they want. You understand their problems. You know more about why they invest in their transformation.

And you’re no longer throwing out random messaging and offers like spaghetti and hoping it will stick.

#4 Your Marketing Efforts Are Leveraged (So You Can Market Less)

Over time your consistent messaging and strategic approach gains power and momentum.

Attention becomes interest and interest becomes engagement.

#5 You Become Known and Trusted By a Community of Engaged People

Trust turns engagement into investment … in your programs.

#6 You Get More Client Referrals

Because you’ve geared your offers to fit your audience’s challenges and goals, your coaching produces more than just warm fuzzy feelings.

Your clients are getting tangible results. The kind of results you can put into a testimonial on your website.

They will refer other people in the tribe to you. Not just a casual referral but a specific testimonial about how your program helped them.

#7 Prospects Seek You Out Already Pre-sold on Hiring You

You’re known, liked and trusted. You’re on the inside of your target audience now.

They Google and find you.

And when they arrive on your website they’ll go directly to your Work With page wanting to hire you.

#8 You Know How to Enroll Without Being Salesy

Enrolling is easy now. There’s no convincing. There’s just a connective conversation that helps ideal prospects to “YES”!

#9 You Command Higher Fees

You’re a leader now. A sought after guide.

Before you tell them your fees they know it will be a significant investment in their growth and they’re ready to leap.

#10 It’s Easier to Create Irresistible Products & Programs

With your experience coaching one target audience who have a set of unique challenges and goals, you grow expertise quickly.

And it’s easy to turn that expertise into workshops, masterminds, retreats and online products.

Write the book. Launch the podcast. Grow!

#11 Big Opportunities Find You

The natural result of your commitment and focus on one smart niche and narrow audience is invitations

Invitation to speak. Nominations to lead a larger group.

It’s surprise time. Your Magic is fully awakened and alive.

I’ve had clients who because they stood out in the crowd were provided platforms to get their word out in a massive way or offered jobs in coaching firms or brought internally into an organization to coach the organization.

Those opportunities don’t show up if you’re a tiny voice in a sea of voices all saying the same basic thing.

#12 You Build a Legacy Business

Coaches have been sponsored, televised and awarded all because they had the courage to niche, specialize and become an advocate for one narrow audience.

Coaches contribute to their families and their communities in major ways.

Some coaches build a business that employs dozens or hundreds. A business that can be sold for a windfall.

It all starts with a smart & profitable niche.

Mentioned in This Episode

My next episode is W/hy Do Some Coaching Niches Fail?

Ep 6 – Four Mistakes I Made in Coaching Business Startup

This episode covers 4 big mistakes I made during the start up of my coaching business. Maybe you can relate.

Yes, I made all of these mistakes and more and I lived to tell the tale.

But I’ve experienced multiple magical turning points in my business as well. Wonderful things I never could have imagined came my way because I did not let my mistakes stop me.

And that’s the key, right?

My guess is that, as I talk about these pitfalls, you’ll recognize yourself in some but also realize that you’re much more savvy than I was at startup. Coaches seem to get smarter every year.

Mistakes are still the best way to learn. It’s a time honored tradition. And growing a coaching business, like any business, is a total experiment. It’s a long term gamble.

When I was able to see my business in that light it became easier to power through mistakes by making small adjustments instead of over reacting.

If you can teach yourself to think like a scientist or an innovator and play the long game, you’ll be golden. That gumption and grit will pay you back many fold.

Okay … enough preamble … now to dish the dirt.

Mistake #1 — Holding High Expectations

There are schools of thought about expectations.

Me? I’m with Shakespeare who purportedly said: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

That’s wisdom similar to the Buddhist belief that craving is what causes suffering. Sounds right to me.

See, I expected:

  • to replace my income before I quit my job.
  • to immediately get dozens of referrals from friends and family.
  • for everyone to get the value of coaching with a single free session.

The weight of those expectations and others crushed me. Because when things didn’t work exactly as I’d hoped, disappointment set in. I was certain that it meant I wasn’t good enough.

It didn’t mean that. It never means that. It only meant that the experiment was still alive. And, I needed to chill out emotionally while still taking action on behalf of my business.

Then, I realized pretty quickly that exchanging high expectations for low expectations was just another type of self sabotage. It’s totally de-motivating.

So it’s best to check expectations entirely. The winning attitude turns out to be another buddhist principle. Live in the present moment. Let love drive you in your business and show up as a professional. More about that in a minute …

I know now that for my first 2 years of coaching, I had been holding my breath until I arrived at an imagined destination.

Where did my high expectations come from? Well some was arrogance. Some was ignorance. And the rest was because …

Mistake #2 — I Drank the KoolAid

At the time, when I launched my coaching business there was a lot of hyperbolic messaging about coaches earning high 6 or 7 figures coming from rock star coaches.

As if that was the norm.

I’m glad to see that rhetoric has toned down. And several people who are earning high revenues these days are more transparent about the significant investment of time, sweat and seed money it takes to get there.

I was just listening to Natalie Eckdahl of Biz Chix, one of my favorite podcasts. She generously admitted that her first whole year of business, she had zero profit.

Four years later though, she is one of those phenoms. And I can tell she works very hard for it.

I appreciate her transparency so I’m going to pass that forward now.

My first year in my coaching business I grossed a whopping $10,000. Not enough to pay for my coach training, equipment and mentoring.

My second year I grossed $35,000. My third year — which was the year I figured out the right way to niche, brand and connect to a unique target audience with a specific problem — that year I made $75,000. And from there I took off.

I truly believe you will move faster than that if you thoughtfully design your business rather than just stumble into it like I did.

Six years into my business I started pushing hard for those big numbers.

Eight years into that race I found that the costs of doing business at that level were too high for me. But that’s me. You may have the stamina for it.

Now, if YOU have big number goals, you absolutely have a chance at it.

Consider though, before you climb the highest mountain, get strong on the smaller ones. Be strategic and patient with yourself or you’ll burn yourself out fast.

If you’re feeling like a loser because you’re not at the 6 figure place yet …

Don’t treat yourself that way.

That “American Dream” thing or the equivalent in other nations keeps us in a scarcity thrall — always looking for easy money. And feeling unlucky if it doesn’t happen.

That’s the real cause of suffering. True prosperity is about feeling the blessing of what you have while you still grow.

The healthiest approach I’ve found is to aim for stretch revenue goals that are appropriate for your phase of business.

Then, strategize each step you will take to reach that goal. Do the work. Evaluate how you’re doing from time to time and make incremental adjustments based on what your audience wants and what’s best for you.

In other words, experiment!

Mistake #3 — Staying Too Long in Student Coach Mode

While I both held absurd expectations and drank the KoolAid on the one hand, on the other hand I clung to student mode for nearly a year after coach training.

I was in perpetual student mode with my coaching business.

I kept giving free coaching. Or, I charged pitifully low fees.

I kept taking more coach training. I also spent a lot of money on programs that were teaching tactical approaches that I wasn’t developmentally ready for.

Have you ever enrolled in a program and finishes having nothing to show for it. Chances are the information was just too advanced for where you were in your business them.

That was the case for me. I hadn’t narrowed my niche enough or learned the psychographics of my audience. I didn’t know how to market without being salesy.

It’s part of the reason why I serve coaches in the start up phase to help them believe in their experiment and set themselves up well for the journey.

I have a lot of compassion for myself in that perpetual student mode. It’s a big deal to launch a business. I guess I needed that year to get ready for it mentally.

In the meantime I made …

Mistake #4 — Blindly Following Other Coaches

… down a rocky, barren road.

Yep. I pretty much did what I saw other coaches doing. I didn’t consider whether what they were doing was actually working for them. It looked cool. It sounded cool. So I was inspired.

I admired someone’s website and rushed to put one up that was equally pretty and honestly pretty vapid. It addressed everyone, prosthelytized about the wonders of coaching and had no conversion process.

My third website was the charm. I also spent a lot of money on a logo and a business card. I abandoned that logo long ago and never really needed the business cards for my almost entirely online style of marketing.

Basically, I invested in the trappings of my business without considering my overall strategy.

I think I’ve made all of the mistakes I possibly could have made in the start up phase.

My saving grace is that I’m tenacious. When I say I’m going to do something I don’t stop until I make it happen.

The silver lining of my impetuousness is that when I fall flat on my face I get up with curiosity and study the right way to do something until I can teach someone else how to do it.

So I hope that you’ve enjoyed me roasting myself today.

If you’ve gotten caught in a start up pitfall and want a hand to get back to ground level, I offer a Strategy Session. Scroll to the bottom of this page and click the button STRATEGY SESSION.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Natalie Eckdahl of the Biz Chix podcast.

My next episode is called Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?

Ep 5 – The Simplest Coaching Business Model

This episode is part of my Start Smart Series. A listener asked me to talk about the simplest and least expensive way to get a coaching business off the ground. Great question!

I love it when listeners tell me what they want to hear on the show. If you have a specific request, go to my contact page on —ProsperousCoachBlog.com — and get in touch.

High Profit, Low Tech and High Touch

The answer to the easiest coaching business model is ultra simple! It’s 1:1.

If you’re charging enough and enroll your clients into a longer term package, you won’t need many clients each year to make a good income. I only work with 20 – 30 clients each year.

Your marketing could be minimal if you have ready access to your chosen target audience. And because expenses are incredibly low for this business model, 1:1 is the most profitable option.

Think about it … You don’t have to have a website (although you may want to.) You won’t need a team or even a Virtual Assistant to help you with all the tasks because admin is minimal. You don’t need big coordinated marketing campaigns, a strong presence on social media or a bunch of apps with monthly fees.

Literally all you need is a phone and a private place in your home to take client calls. And maybe an inexpensive business card for networking.

You know what I’m describing, don’t you?

It’s the way every service entrepreneur did business before the internet. Don’t roll your eyes. It’s still the way a lot of service entrepreneurs operate.

Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t easier than all the online stuff everyone, including me, does now. But an online business model does allow you to have an international audience, and I love that.

For that analog way of business, you have to be an active networker, go where your clients are, be a good conversationalist and a non-salesy enroller.

When I started, I only offered private coaching. I found all of my clients through networking and speaking.

It was only in my second year that I added in face to face group coaching. Then started doing VIP days – that’s 3 to 8 hours of working with one person in one day.

It was only in year 6 that I shifted to online. I created a Membership Program. Honestly, a huge amount of work for poor returns. Then, I added a high ticket online Mastermind with two yearly retreats. And I sold two self-study online training programs. For one of them, I took a group of 20 – 50 through it quarterly as well with a closed Facebook group.

It was fun doing all of that stuff and I made good money. But it was soooo much work keeping it all rolling. And so much of my income was going to expenses!

That’s often overlooked when coaches choose a business model. The more complicated or technical you go, the harder you work, and sometimes the less money you keep.

There really is no passive revenue except royalties. I was lucky to have the opportunity to co-write Coach Training curriculum for a royalty and that curriculum is still being used.

Market Less, Serve Clients Longer

But you know what I like the most? Getting to know my clients well and doing deeper work. The 30 hour work week with a 4 day weekend isn’t bad either! That’s my lifestyle choice.

So in my 20th year in business, I’m back to working privately with client in a 5 month comprehensive coaching business building program. I also offer a 90-minute strategy session.

So how do you find and enroll 1:1 clients? That’s a question for another episode. But I remember hearing what I thought was an urban legend, when I was in coach training …

Sandy Vilas, the then CEO of Coach Inc, supposedly worked with 80 clients each week, all of whom he enrolled simply by calling colleagues and inviting them to become his client. (To me 80 clients each week is 8x too many.)

That takes confidence plus a large and eager network. And my guess is that Sandy was an extrovert. LOL!

Every Coach Gets to Build Their Own Marketplace

The reality in today’s distracted world is that all coaches will need to find and develop their own tribe or target market. That’s why the wisdom is to fish in the smallest, most specialized pond, that you can.

The more you narrow your audience and then offer specific solutions to that group’s biggest problems, the faster you’ll build a network of fans who don’t really need to be sold on working with you. That’s the best!

And there’s a lot of joy in building a community.

What It Takes to Succeed with Online Programs

When people hire me to help them choose their coaching niche and build a business foundation I always ask them what they want to offer. Many say they want to quickly move into online programs.

I understand the attraction. You help more people transform in less time, which is especially great if you don’t have much time to give to your business right now.

But to succeed with online programs you need several things set up first, which takes time.

You need a fairly robust list — 5,000 people minimum in your target audience and probably more like 10,000 people who already know, like and trust you.

Develop joint venture marketing relationships with other people targeting your audience but who have a significantly different offer. That will help push your enrollment numbers up. (Another reason to narrow your audience and niche.)

If you’ve been listening to my previous episodes, you might have caught the idea that there are developmental stages in a business.

Start Up is the time to walk not run. That’s why 1:1 is the best way to start out as a coach.

Nothing will teach you faster about yourself and your audience than working with clients privately. You’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll figure out your secret sauce — a talent you have that’s unique and leverageable.

And, once you’ve worked with a few dozen clients privately who are all in the same unique target audience, it’s easy to create online programs that more of them will buy.

Mentioned in this episode:

Contact me if you’d like to request a specific topic for the Prosperous Coach Podcast.

The next episode is: 4 Mistakes I Made in Coaching Business Startup (and I lived to tell the tale!)