Who, besides me, says that narrowing your coaching niche is the shortest, smoothest road to success in coaching? Coach training schools, industry leaders, business gurus – and of course, coaches who have done this. We all agree that choosing a viable coaching niche is the first key step to a sustainable coaching business.
So why don’t more coaches give themselves this powerful advantage?
I want your input on this, and here is what I’ve repeatedly heard from coaches so far:
- “I don’t know what makes a niche viable.”
- “I thought I had chosen a viable niche, but I guess I didn’t, because it’s not working.”
- “Don’t I have to be an expert to target a narrow niche?”
- “I don’t know how to narrow.”
All understandable. So, let’s break these down one by one.
What Makes a Coaching Niche Viable?
Plainly put, a niche is a segment of the marketplace — a sub-sub-sub-group of everyone. Your niche should differentiate you from other service providers, make marketing much easier, and effectively attract enough clients who stay longer and pay you well.
Your niche works well for you when:
- You focus on a specific area of knowledge or expertise you have that’s sought after by others.
(Examples: If you have expertise in finances, you could be a financial coach. Or, if you’ve been in sales all your life, you might become a sales coach.)
- You become the go-to person for a small well-defined target market.
(Examples: Focus on working with mompreneurs; or women pediatricians; or massage therapists; or direct sales people. Specific niche markets don’t require you to have any particular background or expertise. Targeting a narrow market like these allows you to coach them on whatever is most important to them right now.)
- You target a narrow market and develop specific knowledge or expertise they want.
(Examples: My niche for 9 years is coaches and now I specialize in helping them choose a viable niche market that will go the distance. You might choose to work with realtors, and as the years go by, realize that closing is their greatest challenge so you specialize on that topic for realtors.)
You know your niche is viable when your efforts pay off quickly with a consistent flow of clients and income.
There are 3 things that together make your coaching niche worth pursuing:
- ACCESSIBILITY: It’s easy to find lots of people in your niche and they will talk to you, PLUS
- NARROWNESS: Your market is well-defined and they naturally gather into offices, networks, associations, etc, PLUS
- MOTIVATION TO INVEST: Your market is full of “seekers”– people who readily invest in personal and professional growth.
Thought You Had Chosen a Viable Niche?
Most coaches start by focusing on a broad topic of coaching: life, business, corporate, leadership, relationship, career, wellness, life purpose, transition etc. These are not viable niches, but rather toolboxes that are useful with all types of clients. Studying these topics gives you deeper skill in certain territories of coaching, but doesn’t make getting clients easier.
Some coaches choose a target market that’s very difficult to find. For example, emptynesters or divorcees — while specific topics, these individuals don’t read the same publications, belong to the same associations, schools, or networks, and so they aren’t easily accessible.
Some coaches choose markets that are unlikely to invest in personal or professional growth. For example, doctors and lawyers. Taught to be solution oriented and rely on their own skills, these folks rarely reach out for paid support. They aren’t “seekers”.
So you see, it’s important for your coaching niche to be all three: accessible, narrow and motivated to invest.
You Don’t Need to Know More to Serve a Narrow Niche
If you have saleable expertise, leverage it. But if you don’t, you can still target a niche market. Coaching is ultimately about listening, asking questions, reflecting and drawing out the client’s wisdom as their solution. In fact, the best coaching happens when the coach speaks less and offers little advice.
You will absolutely develop expertise over time when you’re the go-to person for a narrow market. For now, let coaching do its magic by trusting yourself, your skills and your client! Targeting will give you focus and clarity while it builds your expertise and confidence.
How to Choose a Viable Coaching Niche
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been coaching, if you’ve been holding yourself back from the #1 advantage of focusing on a viable coaching niche, it’s time you set yourself free.