Ep 31 – The Coaching Niche of Least Resistance

This episode is another ON AIR Coaching Session where I coach a coach to help her click on the certainty button for a unique target audience and then we formulate their coaching niche.

It’s clear from reviews that you really like these coach the coach sessions, so it’s my goal to do one every month.

Ellen Fowler has worked in the field of training, organizational and leadership development for over 25 years. Her experience includes work in the public and private sectors as well as academia.

She lived and worked in Ireland for 12 years, so she has firsthand understanding of the challenges of cultural diversity and radical life change.

She is also an ordained Christian minister. Ellen’s career has always involved working with individuals whether as a counselor, teacher, consultant or coach.

When I help coaches choose a profitable coaching niche, I always start by asking about their background so I can guide them to pull in experience, expertise, interests, gifts and passions into their niche.

Ellen’s background includes:

  • Itinerant minister
  • Training and organizational & leadership development
  • Change & diversity management
  • Teaching adults returning to the workplace on how to make their companies more efficient

Want to Be An Entrepreneurial Coach?

Then, I asked Ellen if she was interested in being an entrepreneur because it’s a certain type of person who does.

Ellen wants to run her own business because she wants it to be portable so she can travel. However, she feels a bit intimidated by the marketing side of things.

I was intimidated by marketing at first but when I learned to put the spotlight on exactly what my target audience wants, it became fun.

Two Potential Audiences That Seem Equal

Ellen had 2 main ideas for her target audience:

  • Mid-career professional women
  • Church leaders

I asked Ellen if it was okay with her if we focused on Church Leaders as a possible target audience first.

I made this choice for 4 reasons:

  • Ellen is an ordained minister and much of her career has been as a church leader. I felt that gave her credibility and gravitas with this audience.
  • Her faith is very important to her.
  • She’s currently coaching 10 clergy and staff from a church group in Pennsylvania and getting more referrals from that group. So she already has a toehold there.
  • She loves the work she’s doing with this audience.

Ellen shared that the work she’s doing with the Church Leaders is based on an instrument called Human Synergistics that she’s certified to use. It helps people identify effective and not so effective behaviors in the workplace and to develop action plans for changing those.

Is The Target Audience Viable for You?

I also felt that the audience — mid-career professional women — is not the most viable audience for Ellen because:

  • They are in corporations and hard to access.
  • They might expect their company to pay for coaching, and that’s an uphill battle to get a foot in the door with corporations.
  • There’s a lot of competition and marketplace noise for that audience already.

Passion and Fit Are The Best Coaching Niche Indicators

I asked Ellen:

What do you love about working with clergy and what do you enjoy about the Human Synergistics instrument?

As Ellen described how she uses Human Synergistics in her work with clergy, I heard her enthusiasm louder than her words.

Then, I wanted to check whether Ellen was earning well with this current gig with clergy because more and more it was sounding like a viable audience for Ellen.

Ellen explained that she felt blessed because the way she was connected with this particular group was that the church leader who hired her was part of the Human Synergistics training she took. He said:  “I’d like you to do some work for me.”

And he gave her carte blanche about what she’d do with the staff and how she’d price.

Right time – right place opportunities happen when you target a unique audience and focus your niche on their big problems.

So, I bee-lined to the bottomline question:

“Ellen, of the two audiences — church leaders or mid-career professional women, which is more attractive to you?”

Ellen said that she could go both ways. Her inability to commit comes down to how she’ll get in front of the audiences.

I spoke to the difficulty with gaining entry to corporations where with her background and current active church leader clients she already has a strong entry place.

I pointed out that if she were to have an international business, especially with her desire to travel and her experience in other countries, that the pond to fish in would be bigger. She could target larger churches and religious organizations with bigger coffers.

I explained that the Church Leader audience would likely mean more offline marketing than online marketing. I asked how she’d feel about that and she said:

“Oh, I like that!” More enthusiasm.

I pointed out that that’s the old fashioned way, right? Not everyone has to use social media channels to build their business.

  • Ellen knows this world.
  • She understands their challenges and goals first hand.
  • She’ll be able to speak their language.
  • They’ll be more accessible because she’s been in their shoes.
  • And she’ll have testimonials from her 10 current clients.

For Ellen, the other audience is less viable. Viability is determined by 5 factors:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to access
  • Eager to evolve
  • Willing to invest
  • Narrow enough (to help you stand out in the crowd)

Ellen added another key reason that Church Leaders are more ideal for her that spoke loud and clear:

“The spiritual side of life is really a bonus for me.”

I asked Ellen to do a check in with herself. Is church leaders the audience she can get fully behind with your heart, mind and spirit?

“Yes!”

Beautiful!

Then we shifted to talking about her niche for a moment … I asked Ellen what is the number one challenge and what is the number one tangible desired outcome that church leaders want?

Ellen said the most acute thing is how to avoid burnout. There’s always somebody needing something and they’re often understaffed and overworked. They feel called to the work, so it’s a burden of responsibility. They get into it because they want to help other people transform.

Burnout can begin to wear away their faith, which is critical for their position.

She felt the Human Synergistic instrument is a so effective in uncovering what’s really going on for the leader and the team.

Each time that Ellen spoke about Church Leaders and working with them I heard passion and compassion — a depth of understanding and certainty that she could help them thrive with her knowledge and the instruments she’s trained in.

She said: “Thank you, Rhonda, for helping me think it through it. It’s been really enlightening.”

The Next Episode is: Would You Buy Your Own Coaching Program?

Ep 15 – What’s Your Zone of Genius as A Coach?

This episode is part of the series called Smart & Profitable Coaching Niches.

It’s all about your unique talent and how, when it’s applied to your coaching niche, it allows you to shine. Doors open to you!

Gay Hendricks coined the term in his book The Big Leap.

The 4 Zones

You might have heard of this even if you haven’t read his book, because it made a big splash and has stood of test of time.

He defined 4 zones:

  • incompetence
  • competence,
  • excellence
  • and genius

Most of us operate day to day in those first 3 zones.

You run up against your incompetence and avoid those tasks and experiences. You find a day to day competence in most things and it’s an acceptable place to hang out in but not stellar. And in a few areas you rise to excellence.

If you’re in your zone of excellence, you’re performing better than most people. It feels good and it’s easier than other areas for you.

For me, that’s stuff like coaching, writing, copy-editing and breaking complex projects and concepts into simple steps. Things I truly enjoy and I’m better at than most, but still, it’s not effortless.

Totally Unique and At Your Best

When you are in your zone of genius, you are literally at your best.

It’s where your natural, innate abilities — the ones that intersect with your passion — literally shine and glow. Your eyes shine, you smile is warmer and people can feel it.

It’s a state of being where inspiration flows to, through and from you and you feel deeply engaged and energized.

Your inspiration awakens something in others.

So, you can see how, your zone of genius could super charge your coaching.

Now, if I asked you what your zone of genius is, you might be tempted to say: “Well, Rhonda, it’s coaching of course!”

But that’s not it. That’s most likely excellence.

No doubt, you are an outstanding coach. I believe that.

Your zone of genius is something singular, unique to you not simply something you do better than most people.

As wonderful as it is, the problem with this whole Zone of Genius concept is that it’s not easy to look objectively at yourself and immediately perceive it.

You need someone to recognize it within you.

And if that hasn’t happened yet, you may think you’re not enough or that there is nothing special about you, no unique gifts that you bring.

It’s not true. You know that in your heart.

Part of my Zone of Genius is hearing other people’s Zone of Genius.

It’s the best clue for a smart and meaningful niche for my clients.

One of my clients said I have a super power for helping coaches niche. I loved that and own that, but that is an outcome of my zone of genius, not the definition of it.

Peak Moments are a Clue to Your Coaching Niche

When I work with coaches I ask a lot questions to help them discover their coaching niche. There’s an array of information that gives us clues.

When they start talking about peak conversations they’ve had with friends, family, and clients sometimes something within them kicks into a more effortless gear …

I feel that vibrational shift in my body and their words float up into the air like a hologram.

And that’s when I know they’ve hit their genius.

Their voice becomes more resonant. They go off on a jag and time stops. Words flow from them that are more attuned to their heart, instead of their head.

It’s a clear display of their innate talent and passion.

And that’s a beacon for the rest of our discovery work.

Holding Your Genius Back

Some people have their Zone of Genius bottled up tightly within them.

I’m a good example of that. I didn’t learn about the areas where I truly shine until my 40’s. And I had been looking for it.

The truth is, it took me that long to believe in myself.

I’ve come to think it’s a developmental point. Not everyone at every stage of their life will be SHOWING their Zone of Genius. Allowing it out.

Have you ever felt afraid of letting yourself fully out?

I have deep compassion for that part.

I have noticed that a lot of people who are serious about being successful in their coaching business have arrived at a place where that Zone of Genius is blossoming.

It makes sense to me because when you decide to become a coach you step onto a strong path of inner transformation yourself.

And if you decide to become an entrepreneur you’ve asked yourself to become a leader all on your own volition. I talked about this in Episode 14 .

I’m wondering, as I talk about this:

Are you having any inklings about your zone of genius?

Or, are you wondering how you might be keeping it bottled up inside you?

Gay Hendrickson’s book talks a lot about self sabotage as it relates to the genius zone.

It’s totally natural, when a coach suddenly gets the reflection of their genius, for fear and imposter syndrome feelings to pop up.

They consider centering their business on their innate gifts and something inside them closes doors.

It’s as if they shrink back from getting their zone of genius out into the world.

They fear how that kind of exposure will affect their relationships and sense of normalcy.

It’s true that success changes things. And it’s part of it to look for the day to day balance that keeps you grounded.

And that’s why, it’s also good to have help to navigate that time of letting yourself out into the world.

I hope this episode has given you hope, maybe even some clarity or even better … curiosity.

Curiosity is a great sign. Go with that!

The next episode up is another Coach-the-Coach session where I help a coach choose her ideal target audience. It’s called Why Not Coach People Like You?

Mentioned in the Episode:

The Big Leap, by Gay Hendrickson