Over the years, I’ve seen just how vital niching is to all aspects of business…..AND how much resistance there is to it! The same was true for my guest today, Inger Madsen of ingermadsen.com as you’ll discover when you read our conversation below.
Like many of us, Inger was reluctant to go from being a generalist to a specialist, but once she did, it changed EVERYTHING!
So Inger, let’s kick off with you telling us a little bit about yourself and the circumstances that led you to start your business
I am Inger Madsen, I am 51 years old and up until my mid thirties, I really had no idea about what I wanted to do with my life, so I have done quite a bit of drifting career wise, as well as having three daughters.
I always knew that I am here to help people, that somehow I was a healer, but owning that seemed so incredibly big headed that I chose to stay small…until I came across homeopathy and did a lot of healing on the inside.
I then decided to train as a homeopath and at the same time I called it a day on my unhappy marriage. A few years later I came across EFT tapping and trained to become an EFT practitioner and the two modalities combine beautifully.
So tell us more about who you work with…
I now work with families struggling to navigate the choppy waters of adolescence. Sooner of later, if you have children, you will have to watch the tide of puberty come in and then it is pretty much all aboard to get across safely and in one piece!
And usually it goes fine, bar the shouting…I am there for when it doesn’t. Sometimes you hit reefs you didn’t know were there: friends die, parents get ill, other times there are pirate ships with scary names like perfectionism, exam fear, or OCD… and maybe the boat itself is weighed down with too much baggage like bullying and friendship trouble and is in danger of sinking. So I offer an inclusive, drug free and highly effective solution to families that are struggling to get safely across that sometimes stormy sea.
Was there some sort of catalyst that set you off along this particular path, working with young people?
Well, only being forced to choose a niche, a ‘tribe’, which I fought against kicking and screaming! I trained as a homeopath and sort of thought that, much like a GP, I could treat everybody… from a scratch on the knee to mental health problems, and so it was incredibly difficult for me to accept the whole concept of having a niche. I was so resistant but I had to face up to that particular demon…. and it actually took probably about 2 years before this particular ‘tribe’ came out of the mist!
I’m smiling here Inger, only because it is such a familiar struggle! As you say, the whole concept of niching feels so counter-intuitive but with hindsight, what would you say niching has done for your business?
Oh everything! There isn’t a day where I’m not grateful for having sorted my niche out… because you cannot do a single bit of marketing without it actually – so it’s everything! I have cursed a lot Karen, because it’s quite a difficult niche – it’s ‘the dog food model of marketing’ – the kids themselves aren’t paying for my services, the parents are – and I felt well, how can I do that, I can’t possibly do that because I want to work with children! But as I started working I realised, actually I need to work with the parents too. We are all in this boat together – and that’s my metaphor – because when the tide of puberty comes in, the whole family gets on board that vessel to set off across the waters and so now, I also work with the parents. But without the niche well, there wouldn’t be a business!
So am I right in thinking this was one of the biggest challenges for you when you first started your business?
That was definitely the biggest challenge and I spent years in the dead waters of no niche!
The other challenge for me apart from the niche, has been the ability to claim my gifts and talents and saying ‘this is what I do….I can do this’ but now I can say hand on heart, that I am an expert and this is my area.
Your passion for what you do really comes through when you’re speaking – what would you say is the very best bit about what you do?
When I work with young people using my various tools and therapies, I feel truly connected to my higher self – my version of the Divine if you like – and I feel in integrity. I feel I’m being of service which is really important to me and I love the freedom that I have from being self-employed.
What did you do before you started your business?
I had a varied career but the very last job I had before going self-employed was working at a local sixth form college.
Ah, working with young adolescents…. very often when you look back you can start joining the dots can’t you?
I know, I know… it’s so interesting isn’t it?
How about you personally Inger, in what ways have you changed as a result of starting a business?
I don’t even know where to start with that question – I have grown so much! It has been the biggest source of personal development that I have ever had… there isn’t a dull moment! Also the whole visibility issue – you know, standing up and being seen…. putting a stake in the ground and saying here I am, this is what I do and I’m an expert on it. I had a lot of fear of this visibility and I’m continually amazed at what I actually can do.
Is there a piece of advice or something you’ve found particularly important for YOU, which you could share with us here?
I have been given lots of advice from various sources but a really important piece for me was learning to celebrate every step of the way. Before, I never really stopped to breathe – when I succeeded it was just on to the next thing! I’m more inclined to criticise myself – if I’m giving a talk or something I look straight at would I didn’t get right and what I didn’t do right, so an important thing I’ve learnt is to celebrate every little success – and quite wildly! Really ‘big yourself up’ to reprogram your brain to expect success and cultivate an attitude of ‘you can do it’.
For me it’s also about breaking things down into smaller steps – I use little sticky notes and as I do a task I take it out into another room and just watch them accumulate. The further you break tasks down, the quicker you’ll get your stickers from one room to the other! I know it sounds really childish but it feels really good!
What would you say has been one of your very best moments to date in your business that you could share with us?
Well, the working with young people – that part of it is just easy… I’m in the flow and I love it. It’s the stuff behind the scenes that is challenging for me, so for example, getting my website on the first page of Google, that for me was quite something!
And doing videos for my website… if you only knew the agony that was for me! I still feel so really happy when people comment on them and say how good they think they are.
It’s interesting what you say about how working with young people is the ‘easy’ bit and the challenges come from the behind the scenes things like marketing, but I guess you can’t have one without the other. You have to get those pieces in place in order to DO the work that brings you joy and delight.
Absolutely. Actually, the biggest shift for me has been to love the marketing and to change my perspective on it. I used to have to chain myself to my computer and now I actually like it.
I agree with you – you do need to learn to love marketing because that’s the bit that’s going to allow you to make your difference – that’s the way I like to look at it!
I tell you what changed things for me. I love gardening and I moved into this house about the same time as I started my business and I remember sitting one day and thinking, why can’t my business to be as simple and delightful as my garden is? And it kind of clicked for me because when I’m in my garden I feel peaceful, inspired and uplifted and I can watch it grow with patience and compassion. I know that some parts take longer to grow than others and I can let somethings be fallow until the inspiration comes to plant something in that part of the garden. And I enjoy the repetitive maintenance… you know, I love a bit of weeding as much as I love innovation. I invest in that garden, I add all the nourishment and I’m deeply grateful for what it provides me. So I just turned that round and applied it to my business – some things you just have to do all the time!
I love that analogy! We also need to plant seeds in our business knowing that the shoot aren’t going to come through for a few months.
Yes, and not give yourself a hard time because it didn’t grow instantly!
So Inger, any words of wisdom you’d like to leave us with as we come to the end of our time here today?
Well I think I suffered from the misconception that if I was working really hard and there wasn’t enough coming in, then I made that mean that I’m not good enough – and that meant I was in the perpetual sort of loop of stress, until I finally understood that like the garden, it’s not how hard you work, it’s about how good you feel in it.
The other thing is, I have worked with and I have been so blessed to have as a good friend and colleague, Linda Anderson who I know you’ve also interviewed and she’s kind of been a mentor by proxy and I wouldn’t be here without her.
I’ve really enjoyed talking with you Inger and your details are below this interview so people can find out more about you but for now, thank you very much and I wish you all the very best in your business.
FREE way forward session on ingermadsen.com/the-way-forward/
How about you?
What’s keeping you from niching your business? Or if you have, what lessons did you learn along the way? Please share your thoughts and experience by leaving a comment below.