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.”

Ep 21 – How to Spot the Right Opportunities for Your Coaching Business

I’m grateful to all the regular and new listeners. You have been helping me rock this podcast by sharing comments about the topics you like and the new things you want me to talk about.

To keep the conversation going, I’ve just started a Facebook community for subscribers of my podcast called Prosperous Coach Club. It’s a safe place to share wins or challenges — anything about you and your coaching business. We’re a friendly, supportive, non-promotional group. Join us! Go to prosperoucoach.com/fb to join.

This episode is in the Smart Mindsets & Habits series, and it is Part 2 about how to selectively and wisely decide when to say ‘yes’ to coaching business opportunities. It’s about teaching yourself to stand in your power and answer from your highest self.

Part 1 was about how to breakthrough the bright shiny object syndrome so that you’re not wasting money on webinars, online programs or masterminds that you’re not ready for yet. That’s probably because your business foundation isn’t solid yet. I know that’s frustrating and it’s a good time to stop and get that all nailed down before getting into advanced business programs.

Many of you have been letting me know that that episode hit the mark. Thank you for reaching out. I love hearing from you.

Ellen wrote to me: I’ve taken many courses and been part of many mastermind groups and webinars but it’s all come to naught because I haven’t converted that learning into practical actions. That’s because I’ve been struggling to figure out who I’m called to serve and what pain point or problem I’m trying to solve.”

As it turned out, Ellen grabbed a strategy session with me and we quickly figured out her ideal target audience plus the problem she’ll help them solve. At the end of the session she said: “Rhonda, that was amazing! I can’t believe what we came up with. I came in confused about my niche and wanted a plan of what to do next. And I got all of that!”

Ellen, that makes me so happy!

So if you want to solidify any aspect of your business foundation — your audience, your niche, your business model — don’t struggle and try to figure that out on your own. Grab a Strategy Session and let’s nail that down for you. You can find that on today’s show notes at prosperouscoach.com/21

Distraction Slows Down Your Coaching Success

Today we’re digging into other types of offers you might be getting as a coach. For example, let’s say someone emailed offering you:

  • a radio show program
  • a feature in a magazine
  • promising to get you leads
  • another coach wants to collaborate with you

When offers like this come in, it’s elating. There’s this sense of “I’m not having to do everything myself!” Someone is saying they’ll pave the road for you. And it’s really tempting to say ‘Yes’.

But are these opportunities right for you? Especially for the stage of business you’re in.

If you’re in startup mode — that’s the first 18 months or so of your business — it’s all about solidifying your business foundation. You are:

The learning curve is high and while you’re doing all of this you’re also figuring yourself out as a coach, as a business owner.

And for that reason it’s a vulnerable time too.

The potential for distraction and getting pulled off course is high. Some diversions will muddy your vision, waste your resources and set you back.

But what if do feel you’re ready and one of these offers is your breakthrough moment?

How can you discern between the good opportunities and the right opportunities?

Early on in my business I was endlessly distracted. Do you know what I mean?

There was so much stuff in my inbox, my head would spin.

One national radio program courted me saying they wanted to put my business on the map. I was so thrilled! I got so excited I told everyone about it even before I did the due diligence to see if it was legit.

But I’ll admit something didn’t feel quite right.

And it turned out it was only going to cost me $5000. Well, at least I said ‘no’ to that one.

I was offered spreads in online magazines. And there were all sorts of business clearing houses offering a listing on their site for coaches that supposedly had hundreds of thousands of web hits every month. Organizations asked me to speak at their lunch and learn groups and at association meetings.

And I’m truly embarrassed now at how many of these thing I jumped at.

I poured my heart into them. Most of them took me off track. And no clients or sales came out of any of those “opportunities”.

In retrospect none of them truly aligned with my business. They didn’t help me build credibility with my target audience and they didn’t help me build my list.

The organizations were just filling their slate. I helped them but they did not help me.

I finally realized that I needed to set some guidelines for myself. I call them Success Criteria.

Smart Success Criteria

It’s sort of a checklist. Before I say “yes” to any opportunity I ask myself a set of questions. And it starts with 3 anchor questions.

Do I have a good feeling about the people offering this?

Does it align with my integrity and values?

Does it put me in front of my target audience?

If ‘no’ to anything above then I say ‘No’ to the opportunity.

If ‘yes’ I ask myself:

If there’s a financial investment can I easily offset that with 1 enrollment?

Does it allow me to point people to my website for a valuable download?

If ‘no’, I say ‘no’.

If ‘yes’, I consider my current profit margins and also ask myself:

Will doing this build my credibility and brand?

Will I create things for this that I can repurpose elsewhere?

If ‘yes’ and profit margins look good, I say ‘YES!’

Be True to Your Coaching Business

When I put this success criteria in place I also made an agreement to let it guide me 100%. I stuck with it. And that paid off for me.

Not only did I stop having indecision and regret but I also found that it really set my business up for success every time.

Everything I said no to, I ended up feeling I dodged a bullet. Everything I said yes to, returned high value to me.

And then I started get better opportunities. It’s as if I trained the Universe.

I’m an old hand at this now and come to most decisions by simply checking in with my body.

Pressure Means No

If I ever feel uncertain, I take my time. I let a couple of days pass then check in again.

I never make a snap YES decision because I only have so much time and I want to maximize the return for that time.

The reality is that any quality organization or person will give you time to make a smart decision. If you’re feeling pressured, then your answer is ‘NO’.

Now I want you to make your own Success Criteria. And then stay true to them!

And, feel free to share your Success Criteria with me.

I’ve just started a Facebook community for subscribers of my podcast called Prosperous Coach Club. It’s a safe place for coaches where you can share things like this plus any wins or challenges. We’re a friendly, supportive, non-promotional group. Join us! Go to prosperouscoach.com/fb to join.

The Next Episode is: Should a Coach Do Market Research?