Figuring out a niche is perhaps one of the most perplexing and nerve-wracking things for a new coach. Some marketing experts will say you choose a niche. Others say to decide on a niche. And still others say you must find your niche.
I’d like to take another perspective here. I’d like to request that you let your niche find you, or that you receive your niche. Unless you are very clear about who you want to coach, it can be premature to decide on a niche as a new coach.
A niche consists of a group of people who have a specific challenge. Having a niche makes marketing your coaching business much easier, so there is great value in having one. Yet many new coaches feel that by having a niche, they will be excluding people who might need their services. In reality, this is not what happens.
When I began coaching, I didn’t know much about niches or ideal clients. I didn’t really make a conscious decision about who I would be coaching. My niche actually found me, and it was a perfect fit.
I began with coaching entrepreneurs. I had been very successful in the Estate Planning field, and had credibility among my peers. So, I contacted the accountants, lawyers and financial planners I knew, and coached them. In my first nine months as a coach, I logged in the required paid hours to apply for my ACC, with entrepreneurs as my informal niche.
There were other coaches around me who had spent those same nine months designing their websites, getting their business plans together, ordering their business cards. And in the meantime, I had a full practice of entrepreneurs.
I attended my first ICF conference in Atlanta that year. One of my colleagues asked me, “If I get a group of new coaches together, would you coach us to do what you’ve done?” Before we left the conference, she had single-handedly enrolled seven other new coaches in my new coaching group!
The group made lots of progress. I realized that I loved coaching the coaches in their practice development. I understood their challenges. I knew how they could overcome them. Yet I was still so new to coaching myself, I was reluctant to claim this niche.
Then, one day I was on a free teleclass with a branding coach who lived in Paris. He offered a free coaching session, and I took him up on the session. I told him of my experiences. He told me that he had never heard anyone so excited about new coaches and encouraged me to pursue this niche.
He requested that I immediately put the title “The Coach for New Coaches” on my signature line of all of my emails. I felt very excited; and also scared at the same time. Who was I to declare this? Yet I did, and it got easier for me to embrace. That was in 2003, and to this day, I am still coaching coaches.
There are so many lessons I learned through this process of receiving my niche. First of all, it is easiest to start with a niche that you know and that you have credibility with. Begin there. Next, once you are coaching, you will receive your niche. Trust your niche to find you. Notice who shows up to be coached. Notice what topics that they are bringing to their sessions. Allow this to happen naturally.
When you do receive your niche; one way to tell that it is truly yours, is that you really love and admire your clients. You feel a bit humbled by being of service to this group. And you know you can help them.
Yours may be a two-step process, like mine. Or you may know your niche right away. Either way, your niche will be helping a specific group of people with a specific challenge. When you get out there and coach and allow this process to happen naturally, you will receive your perfect niche.