If you’re determined to do good in the world while doing well financially, then it’s worth asking whether you should choose a coaching niche or not. There are some very compelling reasons why you’d want to niche as well as a few circumstances where niching would not be right for you. I’ll cover both in this post.
In the “pro” column, targeting a viable coaching niche opens wide the doors of opportunity and prosperity by helping you:
Solidify your brand.
Earn more by specializing.
Become well known quickly.
Break through filters and capture more attention.
Get more of the right kind of referrals.
Build “social proof” with colleagues and future clients.
Focus and leverage everything you do so you can work less.
Stand out in the crowd of service providers.
Positively impact a unique group of people.
Since the nineties, when coaching became a profession and consulting of all types burgeoned, there are more solopreneurs in the world than ever before. That means niching is more of an advantage than it used to be. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to get your share of attention from potential clients if you don’t stand out strongly in some way. Your niche helps you stand out in the most complete and long lasting way.
Like many, I am still reeling from the heart-wrenching tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school last Friday. The grief and shock of an event like that is unspeakable. And I know that we are all praying for the families and for healing.
What else can we do? Resolve to seek light in the darkness.
Much hyped as a prophecy of the end of the world, I choose instead to see this as the end of the world as we know it and the birth of a kinder way of living on this planet. An elder of the Mayan nation states that the prophecy actually calls on all people to unite and change the way we live, in order to usher in an age of harmony, prosperity and peace. Others have picked up this view, calling for acts of love to help “gentle the birth” of a new era of peace.
The best tool I know to gentle any transition is mindfulness. Rather than covering up the pain we feel, learning to be with it and to believe that, paradoxically, tough times hold a priceless gift for us. If we don’t allow ourselves to get stuck in the pain, or the story of the pain, we honor ourselves and can return attention to what we want our lives to be.
We know this: mindset and action are the make or break factors in our success on any given day. The trick to doing well while you do good for the world is a continual improvement of both.
A fun way to evolve and thrive in business is to pay attention to the archetypes — day to day pattern of thoughts and behaviors — you employ. Here are 4 archetypes I see in myself and other service entrepreneurs such as coaches. See if you recognize your current default archetype among these.
The 4 Archetypes
The Perpetual Student is driven by scarcity to grab each new shiny program, but failing to implement much, falls into overwhelm and paralysis from over -consumption (the in breath) without execution (the out breath).
The Perfectionist agonizes and second guesses minute behind-the-scenes details holding back from connecting their offers to their target audience and postponing the results they most want.
The Hasty Executive is fast to action on every idea, but hasn’t thought through what their audience really wants or how they’ll monetize their offers.
The Brave Heart – is 100% committed to their own success raising courage to implement what they learn even through fear and knowing the value of mistakes. Because they value their time and think through the pathway to the results they want, they reap more rewards, both in joy and income.
I’m in awe of the power of loss as a catalyst for transformation. Whether from the loss of someone you love, a chronic or potentially terminal illness, moving your home, losing a job, ending a career — all these things can throw you into an altered state where you naturally reflect more deeply on your life.
My mom, AJ Hess, died in December. The beautiful memorial my brothers and I created to honor her was this past Saturday. l feel matured to have witnessed my mom’s transition from this life. Somehow I feel released to be more fully myself. And I’m so grateful, not only for everything she did for me, but also for the way she braved her passage as she braved her life. The force of her will, even in the fog of Alzheimers, was awesome.
Her death has also caused me to question what my highest self wants of me now. Evolution is potentially one of the greatest gifts of loss. And I feel in good company. All around me, friends, clients and colleagues seem to be going through sea changes spurred on by tough events in their lives.
In honor of my mom, I wanted to share some of the powerful questions I’ve been asking myself.
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.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to put something off. You make a conscious choice to postpone a task or a project because it’s for your highest good, or the timing will be better later. But I find the main reasons I put things off for my coaching business have more to do with my state of mind.
I looked into this recently because there was an important project I put off all week and then guilty thoughts about the thing occupied my entire weekend. No good!
Have you ever done this?
Here’s the scenario… you wake up and think about that thing you’re putting off, your mind wanders to it through exercise and breakfast. By the end of the day, you feel like you’ve been royally nagged. It’s almost as if some part of you really wanted to get going on that thing while the rest of you resisted. Big energy drain!
So I created these questions to manage my states and stop wasting energy and it’s working!