If you’re a small business owner, do you have a niche?
If not, maybe, like me, you’ve had various business coaches niggling at you to find one.
Maybe you’ve resisted and continue to work with anyone you possibly can.
Maybe, again like me, you’ve experimented with several niches along the way.
Why have a niche?
Here are some really good reasons I’ve been given:
So why is finding a niche so hard?
Certainly, in those early days of your business, you probably didn’t want to ‘narrow your niche’ too much because frankly, you need all the business you could get and narrowing your niche would surely put anyone else off from seeking your services.
Perhaps you’re not quite sure you fully understand the concept of niche and think you’ve got one, even though your coach tells you it’s not specific enough.
Once you’ve narrowed your niche, you then have to create an avatar, and that’s just too hard! Not all your clients and customers can be the same age, live in the same place, read the same magazines, etc. Again, you don’t want to put anyone off.
You don’t want to put yourself in a box – because what if you want to get out again?
You have expertise and experience across a spectrum of skills and love the variety in what you currently offer.
All of the above have applied to me, and maybe some of them resonate with you too.
Is your niche staring you in the face but you’re somehow missing it?
Another thing my coaches have said about choosing a niche is that it should be something that feels easy, that you’re in your flow when you’re doing this work, that you love it and it feels effortless.
The trouble with anything like that is that because you find it easy, you might assume that everyone else finds it easy too, so why would they pay you good money to help them?
Take IT skills for example. If you’re someone who quickly understands most of the new technology that comes out and can’t quite understand why others still don’t know the difference between a URL and a USP, or how to copy and paste or populate a word-press site, you probably don’t appreciate the mountain of value you’re sitting on.
It will be the same for whatever is your sweet spot in your business quiver.
Perhaps you’ve held onto a belief that you don’t have enough qualifications, awards, or experience in that area to give you credibility, even though you know you’re good at what you do and have case studies to prove it.
Perhaps you think that work should be hard, that it shouldn’t be mostly enjoyable, or make your heart sing – and certainly not simple.
So what if you had to choose a niche? If you had to pick just one of the things you do, just one of the client groups you serve, or one of the outcomes you achieve for your clients, what would it be? You have to choose – assume your life depends upon it.
What if you decided to trial that for a defined period of time as your niche? That this is all you talk about at your networking meetings, in your social media posts, or in your blogs? What difference might that make and how might it feel?
What if it didn’t work out? What’s the worst that might happen?
And what if it does work out? What level of success might that bring?
My own story
I’ve been working on and off with business coaches for over 8 years now, and have been immersed in the world of small business for longer than that, so niching has been in my vocabulary for a long time.
Starting off as a business coach, I thought I’d found my niche when I recognised that I focused on the personal development of the business owner rather than the growth of the business itself - goal setting, time management, etc but not looking at balance sheets or budgets.
As my skillset and interests grew, I added presentation skills training into the mix and loved it.
When I joined an intense 12-month business coaching programme, guess what – my coach wanted me to niche even further. Her rationale was that there are loads of presentation skills coaches and trainers out there, and even more business coaches, so how did I or could I stand out?
We decided that helping other small business owners with running their workshops would offer a unique angle to presentation skills, so I developed my whole website around this. Calling myself the Workshop Mentor, buying the relevant domain names and creating my keynote talks and programmes, I threw myself into this niche.
One of the problems was that I felt a fraud in this space. Confident in the way I created and delivered my own workshops, and with great feedback to support that, the missing piece for my own business was the one that potential customers wanted to learn – how to get the bums on seats.
The result was that although people were keen to hear my tips and ideas on how to create and deliver their workshops, very few had the inclination to invest any money.
Disillusioned with this niche, and excited by an opportunity to speak on the main stage at Olympia, on a topic of value to all women, not specifically businesswomen, I delivered a speech called ‘You do make a difference’ which met with a lot of positive feedback.
This led to a turnaround of niche to becoming the Mindset Mentor, helping clients challenge their own thought processes and developing a mindset more open to opportunities.
More website updates, more domain names and a certain amount of success - and certainly lots of feeling in flow, etc.
However, the business plateaued on that familiar plane of attracting some clients but not at an inadequate rate to achieve the level of success I was aiming for.
Time for some soul-searching and a really good look at the different services I could offer. Speaker training and coaching came back on the table, alongside more general communication skills, networking skills, confidence coaching and of course mindset and resilience. What did all of those together add up to?
Professional Brand! How you present, communicate, how confident you are, and pretty much everything you say, think and do within your business environment says something about you and so makes up your Professional Brand – a wonderfully wide umbrella allowing me to carry on doing everything I enjoyed doing.
Instead of niching on my services, I tried niching who I did them for, which seemed to work. People knew immediately who they could introduce me to, and did so, resulting in an increased level of success – but still also a level of confusion.
I was managing to get more conversations with prospective clients and bookers but less able to demonstrate the transformation I could help them and their teams achieve, in such a way that they saw the value of their investment.
Luckily for me, even my own business coach (now a different one) was also confused, after nearly 6 months of working with her, and as any good coach should do, she told me so.
That revelation knocked me for six, or took the wind out of my sails and weighed heavily on my mind for a few days.
Until I started asking myself the ‘What if …?’ questions.
What if I had to choose just one of the things I do?
What of all the things I offer do I enjoy doing the most?
What do I think I’m best at doing?
What earns me the most money?
Very luckily, but perhaps not surprising, there was a perfect match between those 3 answers.
So yes, you guessed it, more website redrafting, potentially more domain names to buy, more people to tell of ‘yet another change’ – but:
If any of my story resonates with you, and you still don’t feel you’ve quite nailed your niche, I urge you to take yourself back to the ‘What if..? section and ask yourself those questions.
If you had to pick just one of the things you do, just one of the client groups you serve, or one of the outcomes you achieve for your clients, what would it be? You have to choose – assume your life depends upon it.
What if it didn’t work out? What’s the worst that might happen? And what if it does work out? What level of success might that bring?
And whatever path it takes you down, it’s all part of your own Story of How.
Need help to craft that story for your talks or presentations? Get in touch to arrange a call to explore how I can do that with you.