“Hi, my name is x and I help women transform their lives by connecting with their inner child so they can live their best life possible and find true success.”
I have absolutely no idea what this means, do you? And yet you’ll regularly hear similar sorts of thing at networking meetings from people trying their best to articulate a response to the simple question, “What do you do?”
It may sound crazy…. but honestly, you’d be amazed at just how many people really struggle to describe what it is they actually do for people!
And why is this? Well, it all boils down to one thing. I think it’s time we talked about niching.
Yes, that old chestnut!
An old chestnut it may well be but niching remains THE most foundational topic for us as business owners. And yet, whenever this particular topic raises its head it’s likely to be accompanied by resistance or frustration or more likely, BOTH!
Your niche is the foundation stone of your WHOLE business and yet so many of us still try and skip this bit altogether! Which to my mind is a bit like trying to build a house without laying any foundations and wondering why cracks keep appearing in the walls!
I’ve had some interesting conversations with clients over the past few weeks which have given me vivid flashbacks to my own resistance and frustration where this particular business topic was concerned!
As a newly qualified coach who was – and still is – absolutely passionate about the power of coaching, I naively set about creating a business offering coaching services to anyone and everyone, in a ‘whatever you need sorting, I’m the woman to help you sort it’ type of way! But despite my hard work and puppy-like enthusiasm, I found myself running around like the proverbial headless chicken, and yet clients were nowhere to be seen and I was steadily getting more and more disillusioned.
Trying to be all things to all people
As I soon found out to my cost, when you are talking to ‘everyone’, you are actually talking to no one! Trying to tell people clearly and succinctly what I did and how I could help them was SOOO difficult…. and if you’ve ever tried writing compelling copy for a website that resonates with ‘everyone’ you’ll know it’s an impossible task!
So reluctantly, I decided to look into ‘this niching thing’ and lo and behold the penny finally dropped! It became clear to me that if I really wanted to make a difference, for both my clients and myself, then I needed to claim my specialism.
I could SEE the power of claiming a SPECIFIC niche. I could SEE how working with a SPECIFIC group of people with a SPECIFIC need could revolutionise my business. I would KNOW these people – I mean, really KNOW them. And in really knowing them, I would be able to craft my message in a way that really resonated with them.
So, even though I went down kicking and screaming, I eventually decided to clarify and claim my special niche. And guess what? Yes, it was the best business decision I ever made!
And now, having firmly established my niche as specialising in helping women over 50 turn their experience and talents into a thriving first-time business, I can now share the benefit of both my personal experience as well as my experience in helping many others through the niching process, be it defining the niche of a first-time business or redefining the niche of an existing business!
So, as you have probably noticed by now, I am a huge advocate of niching because I’ve experienced and witnessed the difference it makes.
Having a niche changes everything
Sooner or later, (preferably sooner!) most of us reach a point where we realise that being a generalist is NOT a good foundation on which to build a business. Without a clear niche it’s always likely to be a struggle… but, to quote Inger, a generalist turned specialist I interviewed on this very subject, having a niche “changes EVERYTHING”.
There’s a focus and freedom that comes from being specific and clear
A niche provides focus for your marketing, your website copy, the services you offer, the networking events you attend, through to the words you use in conversations! A niche allows you to showcase your value, amplify your strengths and gives you clarity, credibility and confidence – all of which, attracts results.
And if that sounds good to you, believe me, it FEELS even better!
But that said, there is often an undeniable frustration when it comes to trying to work out what the hell your niche might actually BE…. and even though you ‘get it’ on an intellectual level you still can’t quite identify a thriving niche businesses of your own.
The thing is, you are unlikely to find your niche just by huffing and puffing while waiting for inspiration to strike and you’re equally unlikely to FORCE your way through to clarity! Clarifying your niche is a process. And processes take their time.
Give it time
Accept that this IS a process and go WITH it rather than pushing against it! That means giving yourself time to play and explore without the pressure to make the RIGHT niche decision….or find the ONE thing that you want to be known for, for ever and ever! Because THAT is a stressful proposition!
You may well explore two or three ideas (or more!) until you find something that feels like a good fit but the only way you’ll find your niche is by starting the process of exploration.
Explore in the right places
I have yet to meet anyone whose niche wasn’t found somewhere in the mix of these 3 things: their experience (the good, the bad, the challenging & the frustrating!) their skills (but not necessarily the obvious ones!) and last but certainly not least, their passions.
The seeds of your niche will be somewhere within that mix too. And I’d like to offer a few questions to set you off on your niching exploration:
- What challenges, frustrations or hardships have you overcome in your life to be here today?
- What transformations or life changing event have you gone through to become who you are being right now?
- What tricky terrain have you successfully traversed that you can now guide others across?
I ask these questions because when I look around at all the niche businesses I know, their niche is very often people just like them or rather, people like they once were…. people who have overcome challenges – childlessness, miscarriage, divorce, health issues, family traumas, eating disorders – and now, having come through those challenges, choose to use their hard won experience and expertise to help those who are struggling now in ways they used to struggle. Having overcome these things they have the wisdom, ability and the credibility to help others and their strongest testimonial is their own personal example.
Take me for example – I’ve built my niche business around my experience of trying to build a first time business that fully utilises my talents and passions. I know and understand this terrain well -VERY well – and having navigated my way through, it makes me well placed to help others who wish to do the same.
The same is likely to be true for you too.
What if your niche no longer fits?
Businesses are anything BUT static entities – they are continually evolving – as are we! I’m betting you’re not the same person you were when you first started your business – am I right? As we change and evolve, it’s not unusual for us to reach a point where we realise that our existing niche isn’t quite as exciting or relevant to us any more because we’ve changed.
For many of us it’s a natural part of our business’s ongoing evolution and yet the fear of starting from scratch can often keep people stuck in a niche that no longer floats their boat.
But fear not…. in most cases it’s a refinement or a change of perspective that makes ALL the difference rather than throwing everything up in the air and starting from scratch. Think ‘evolution’ rather than ‘revolution’!
If you’re struggling with this too….
If you’re struggling with this whole ‘niche’ question in your business the first thing I want to do is to reassure you that it’s a completely normal struggle – I have struggled, my colleagues have struggled and virtually ALL of the new business owners I meet struggle with this. In fact, I’d go so far to say that most of the ‘challenges’ and marketing struggles my clients face come down to a lack of clarity around this question of ‘who’ they’re trying to reach – their niche!
Understanding the theory of niching is one thing but the appeal of ‘keeping your options open’ can be a hard one to let go of! And I should know! But if you’re struggling with developing your niche you need to start somewhere and answering my three questions above is as good a place as any.
Your perseverance will pay off big time because it’s what’s likely to make you happier and more successful in your business than anything else.
At the end of the day, niching is all about building meaningful connections with our clients. The closer you can get to them, to letting them know ‘you fit in here’ and ‘I get you’, the better things are going to go.
Effective niching is simply a shortcut to that connection.
Something this fundamental deserves special attention – if you feel stuck about your niche and would like someone to bounce ideas off then do please get in touch . If I can help, I will.
Over to you!
Now I’d love to hear from you.
Leave a comment below and let me know, how have you stepped out to differentiate yourself from your competitors? How has your business changed since claiming your niche? If you’re still struggling to claim yours, what seems to be holding you back from establishing it?
Share your tips and or questions below….. thank you!