As a coach, have you ever thought “Who am I to…?” Fears like this show up when you take the smart step of focusing on one unique tribe of people — a niche market — and begin to put the word out that you can help them get where they want to go. The underlying thought is: “How can I charge for this if I haven’t accomplished for myself the things my clients want to accomplish!” And then you fall into a spiral of doubt and start back pedaling.
I hear you. But keep moving forward by embracing your beginner’s mind.
In any new job, career or business direction there is the absolute necessity to be new, untried and unproven at first. You are required to be a beginner and learn from doing. There’s no shame in it.
In fact, a fresh perspective is THE POINT of coaching.
I love quizzes and assessments because they open my mind to new perspectives. They encourage me to evolve and transform the way I think about something. How about you?
Coaches often ask me “What do you think of this coaching niche?” Sometimes I can say definitively whether a niche is worth pursuing or not. But more often I ask a set of powerful questions to draw the conclusion. When it comes to whether your coaching niche will pay off for you, what’s really important is your opinion based on a few critical factors.
So, I’ll provide the powerful questions here and you can provide the answer. Give yourself 1 point for each question where your answer is “Yes!” And let your answers educate you about how to shift your niche.
(A NOTE TO NEW COACHES or those just getting started in your business: Let these questions be a guideline to choose a highly profitable niche and set yourself up for success from the get go.)
Where the Clients Are
1. Can you name 3 direct ways to get in front of at least 50 potential new clients in your niche right now?
If you’ve already picked all the “low hanging fruit” in your niche market — friends, acquaintances and colleagues — I’d recommend narrowing your niche. A more narrow and targeted niche helps you leverage your time and focus your message while authentically inspiring people to engage you and refer others.
Large niches such as women in transition, baby boomers, empty-nesters and many other popular niches may seem highly accessible until you realize those people don’t gather anywhere together or have much motivation to hire professional support for those issues.
A viable niche market is like a deep well where you can reliably draw out your next 10, 20, even 100 clients.
Some part of you already knows this… it’s a rare person that wakes up in the morning thinking “I need a coach!” That person is “initiated” into the value of coaching because they or someone they know has had a positive experience with coaching. But that’s a small percentage of all the people in the world.
So why are coaches working so hard to convince people to buy their coaching?
I floundered around with this fruitless approach myself in my first three years of my business. Then I realized, that selling coaching is a very sales-like approach and I didn’t want to do it anymore. It takes a lot of energy for little return and doesn’t build much momentum or ease over time.
Each new prospect has to be convinced. It’s like starting over with every sample session. And too many say they can’t afford it because they perceive coaching as a luxury.
It’s not very coach-like is it?
Think about it. We’re taught to work with clients holistically, focusing in on their agenda — what is it that they want today. And then we use our skills, listening and asking powerful questions, to draw out their wisdom, help get perspective and work through obstacles so they walk away with the outcome they came for.
Coaching is client-centric. But selling coaching is not.
So, what would be a more client-centric approach to attracting clients? There’s a tried and true way. Every successful change agent, entrepreneur and professional has done this. They target a specific group of people, find out exactly what they want — that tangible outcome they woke up wanting this morning — and show how they can help them get there.
It’s a good question. If you’ve been selling a certain type of coaching such as relationship, career, wellness, leadership, life purpose (put any word before coaching)… you must be wondering this yourself because clients may have been hard to come by.
Many coaches haven’t noticed a blip in the number of people wanting their services. In fact, their income has increased over the last few years and it’s still rising. Their clients are staying longer. What are they doing differently?
Well, I’ll tell you, this may be shocking, but they are NOT selling coaching. And yet they are continuously doing some fine coaching with a wait list of clients.
Here’s what we know about any economic downturn, and there have been several over the last two decades where coaches rode the wave back up ahead of the curve…
People still buy things they want, but they have changed their buying strategy.
They feel they must justify their expenses and they get very serious about what’s really important to them. They dedicate their resources to those things right now.
Do you ever wonder how all the big name coaches and thought leaders got to the top? I used to think it was about years of experience, but it’s not. And, it’s not even about expertise or how much your clients love you (although it can help).
When it first happens it feels like you’re stepping onto a fast luxury train. It’s very exciting and smooth. Some sort of critical mass is reached where suddenly you’re the bomb and everyone knows it:
- The right opportunities roll in (instead of the kind that waste your time).
- Someone gives you a book advance or you’re asked to keynote for 5 figures.
- People come out of the woodwork to promote you to their big lists.
- You hear all the time “You’re the best there is.”
- Your list suddenly grows exponentially.
- Your time is in such high demand you must double or triple your fees.
- And you realize you have to hire money managers because it’s flowing in.
Your star has risen! And now you’ve got the high-class problem of having to turn down opportunities and clients. But then you expand your team (into a lovely little family) so it’s possible to scale up without having to work harder.
I know not everyone wants a business like that, but don’t you want some measure of “having arrived”? At the very least you want to become THE top of mind go to person for your niche so it makes your life easier, more enjoyable and prosperous.
But what do you really need to have going for you to become well known?
I hope you didn’t. But don’t worry, it’s never too late to pick up that step because it will dramatically affect how much you earn and how hard you work.
We all happily stumble into exciting opportunities that become significant turning points in our coaching business. There’s a lot of grace in moving with the current… but it’s helpful to at least pick the river that will take you to where you ultimately want to go.
Making conscious choices, planning your work and working your plan, and setting intentions for the big milestones in your life are part of a prosperity practice. Deviating from the plan here and there is cool (but spazzing out all over the place is not so cool).
In my last post, my friend Erika Kalmar talked about the importance of business planning. Unsexy as that may seem, what I know for sure is that she’s absolutely right. Business planning helps you take AIM and take your business seriously.
But it’s not the first step…
The 1st Crucial Step is Choose a Smart Coaching Niche: Decide specifically who you serve and what transformation you provide (that they urgently want). Stand for something and someone. That’s how you stand out.
Without that clarity, your business plan will be sketchy at best, your website will be bland and your offers won’t compel people to invest.
Are you leading your coaching business to long-term sustainable success? Or are you just taking stabs and hoping for the best?