I’d never heard of having a “niche” until I was in coach training. (It refers to the specific group of people that have the “problem” that your business offers the “solution” for.)
Way back in the 20th century, as a freshly minted coach, full of enthusiasm and idealism, I was certain my niche was people on a spiritual path who had no one to talk to, because that was the “big problem” I’d experienced and wanted to help others so they wouldn’t be as lonely as I was in my journey.
I loved working with spiritual seekers, and I always made enough money to cover my business expenses, so making a living as a spiritual coach was not really important. That all changed when Dave and I decided to reshape our relationship from husband and wife to good friends, and I had to earn my own living.
My first business coach tried to discourage me because he said that unless you’re a big name, like Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer, you won’t make a living as a spiritual coach.
I trusted my guidance more than my coach at the time, and proceeded to spend the next five years bouncing from coach to coach who offered success if I just followed their formula. I burned through my life savings and all the credit I could muster until I had no more resources to throw at it. This was pretty clear feedback that my first coach was right!
The personal and spiritual growth I gleaned from those five years, and the resources I acquired, are invaluable. So my guidance was not “wrong.” It just didn’t lead me to the business success I was certain I would achieve in the time frame I’d expected.
Through a series of seemingly unrelated circumstances I stumbled upon (was led? guided to?) a married couple (Jesse Koren and Sharla Jacobs) who offer heart-centered business training for Coaches and Holistic Practitioners. From them I learned there were business principles that I didn’t know I needed to know, and that without that knowledge I would just keep spinning my wheels “doing what I loved and expecting the money to follow!”
Here is what I found out. My “business plan,” which consisted mostly of visualization, affirmations, a really spiffy vision board, energy work, meditation and whiz bang internet stuff, while important, was only half the equation.
I wasn’t paying attention to basic good business practices, like tracking the return on my investment of time and money into my various offerings. And the bigger problem was that I had no clue about marketing, which I had confused with “selling.”
Just like most heart-based businesswomen, I have great resistance to anything that would be perceived as pushy or salesy. I didn’t know that marketing is just doing things that would make me visible to the people who are looking for what I have to offer. I didn’t know how to engage in conversation that naturally leads to finding out if they have the problem that I solve, and if they want to find out more.
OMG! Just like anything, it is so simple, once you know!
Jesse and Sharla offer a program called Double Your Practice in 90 Days, and in January I jumped in with both feet. The foundational piece of the program is to hone in on a specific niche and get out networking to be visible to the people who are looking for you.
I decided to “make my mess my message” (as coach Suzanne Evans offers) and make myself visible to women who were unhappy in their marriage. My “solution” to their “problem” was to help them either reshape the relationship so it worked for them, or show them how to have a heart-centered and compassionate dissolution that didn’t cost a fortune, while keeping the love intact, like Dave and I did when we ended our 25 year marriage.
The process I went through creating a What Do You Do statement for this niche (what to say when people ask, “so what do you do?”) reminds me of when I was 8 years old and learning to swim. Lots of flailing, lots of splashing, swallowing pool water and getting water up my nose, before I could actually swim.
It took a couple of months of “flailing,” but once I had my “hot” What Do You Do statement I eagerly began attending networking meetings. And the darndest thing happened.
While I was working my patootie off to be visible to the women whom I could help, and people at networking events were saying what a big need there was for my services, not one woman would identify herself as being unhappy in her marriage and wanting my help in sorting out whether to stay or go.
I don’t even know how it happened exactly, but one day I realized that the clients coming on board with me were mostly women who needed help making their businesses profitable! Having made every possible business mistake myself in the last five years I now know the truth of what it takes to build a business. Everything I learned from Jesse and Sharla was working for me, and I began passing it on to my clients!
So that is what makes me a niche switcher! From offering to help people in their spiritual quest, to offering to help married women unhappy in their marriage decide whether to stay or go, and now, coming out as a marketing coach, honestly, I feel like my life has been on a roller coaster traveling at “bullet train” speed, and that I have lived two full incarnations in the last five years! And I am NOT kidding!
And the even crazier thing is, even with being on the “wrong niche track” for awhile, I still doubled my practice in 90 days!
In retrospect I see the experiences of the past five years have set me up to be a terrific marketing coach for businesswomen who are spinning their wheels because they don’t know what they don’t know!
When one of my clients comes to a growing edge and has to face the fear and do it anyway, I am right there with her, because I am not asking her to do anything that I haven’t done. I know what it feels like to be shaking in my Pradas when stepping into new territory. (Just kidding about the Pradas. Definitely NOT kidding about the shaking!)
Duane Packer, my spiritual teacher, often reminded me, “If you want something you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.” Believe me, growing my business has been a personal and spiritual growth experience like no other.
BOTTOM LINE: Living in the unfolding of your life’s journey can mean a lot of side trips, backtracking from blind alleys and starting over time and again. Yet each experience is a building block for things to come. Staying focused on your desired outcome, and being willing to do things you have never done before may not take you exactly where you thought you were going, but it will take you on a journey of growth that continually asks of you to shed the false selves you were trained to take on, so that the light of your True Self can shine through. And that is a journey well worth taking!
TIP: Getting really clear on who you are here to serve and then positioning yourself so they can find you is key to business success. Getting educated on how to do this is essential!
P.S. If you’d like a free 30 minute telephone introductory marketing strategy session with me, go to my online calendar and book an appointment by clicking this link: https://my.timedriver.com/MF6TL
If you don’t find a time that works for you, email me your best days and times and I will do what I can to squeeze you in!
P.P.S. As Katherine Woodward Thomas and Claire Zammit co-founders of Feminine Power Mastery say, “You can’t grow yourself by yourself. We all need mentors to move us forward,”
What’s your business/marketing challenge? Send me an email, email@example.com, or give me a call, 209-369-6188.
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I’ll “see” you in our next newsletter!