by François Beausoleil
Being specialized or having a niche is helpful for three main reasons: 1) You can focus on your main area of passion 2) you get to know well the area of specialization 3) people are likely to see you as the “go-to person” in this area.
Many sustainable NVC trainers or practitioners have a specialization: mediation, coaching, organizational work, leadership development, diversity work, consulting, spirituality, dance floors, etc.
Most of us want to teach to EVERYONE. Often times when that’s our goal, we (surprisingly) often end up teaching to a very small number of people. It might be counter-intuitive, but deciding to serve only a specific type of people with a specific set of challenges is usually a much more effective strategy to serve more people. As an example, BayNVC’s Leadership Program graduate Cat Zavis offered a few years ago a teleseminar for parents who are struggling in relationship to their “Ex”. Although the program was geared to only a small subset of the population, I heard that she generated a lot of interest, and therefore was able to contribute in a powerful way.
The principle at play under this reality is that focusing on a specific group of ideal clients will allow you to get their attention much better since your offer is specifically designed for them; they might well recognize themselves when they hear about what you do, and are likely to be curious to hear more about it. My favorite example is from a man I met a few years ago; when I asked him what he does for a living, his answer was: “I help people with chronic knee-pain, I help them to overcome that in less than a month without strenuous exercises or drugs.”
Before thinking that there are very few people suffering from chronic knee-pain; ask yourself this question: how might you react if you do have it? Most likely you’ll be grabbed right away and will want to know more about it. If you don’t have it, it still might apply to people close to you, and you’ll also want to hear more.
If you don’t have knee-pain, or don’t know anyone who has it, you won’t be interested, and this is perfect. Why? You’re not an ideal client. We want our niche to wildly interest our ideal clients, and not attract at all non ideal-clients. This is because we can’t serve everyone, and therefore our energy is better used if we work with ideal clients for several reasons: we’ll have more fun, bring our best game, the clients will enjoy the results and are likely to refer you to…. other ideal clients!
Objection 1: It will limit me.
This is what I hear the most often. In reality it doesn’t limit you; you can still accept work with people that are outside your niche, and you can have more than one niche.
Objection 2: I’ll be stuck in my niche.
My experience is that this is not accurate either; most people change from niche to niche over time depending on different factors. It’s still very helpful to focus on a niche; much like an empathy guess, you’ll be able to explore if your niche “lands,” and, if it doesn’t, your “guess” is likely to offer important information about what else could land. Mostly it will get you moving; it’s very hard to steer a bicycle when you’re staying in one place… but when you start moving, you can course-correct as you discover and experience the scenery.
Objection 3: I won’t find enough people.
As mentioned before, a loud message to a few people is much more effective than a weak message to many people. Unless your niche is ridiculously small, chances are that you’ll attract enough clients. By the way, how many clients do you realistically want to have? You’ll probably realize that there’s a limited number of people or organizations that you want to work with anyways.
Objection 4: I’m not an expert, it would be dishonest to claim that I am one.
This makes sense, and it is likely to be an expression of fears rather than a solid argument. Think about it, most people don’t ask you to be a world expert even if you have an area of specialization. You can very well let people know that you decided to focus your energy on a new niche, given the passion that you developed for it.
By the way, it’s not so hard nowadays to gather a lot of information that can give you enough credibility for your niche, while you’re on your way to becoming an expert at some point.
Objection 5: I need to wait to have the perfect niche to get started.
This is probably another expression of fear. The only way that a niche can become perfect is by evolving through time; and the only way to evolve it is to get started.
That said, it’s possible to be successful without a niche… it’s just more difficult most of the times.
I suggest to explore what could be your area of specialization or niche and look at what courses you could offer both to the general public and to organizations.
- 2 hour workshops
- Half-day training
- 1 day training
- 2 day training
Here are series of questions that are designed to guide you to discover a potential niche:
|FIND YOUR NICHE|
|What is one thing that you believe in, that encompasses the reason why
you do this work?
|What is your genius?|
|What are your assets?|
|What does being sustainable look like for you?|
|What problems do you have the credibility to solve?|
|What are the main communities you’re part of?|
|Who are your clients, the people you want to serve?
(Ideally they are easy to find in the communities you’re part of)
|Narrow it down (men, women, ages, type of work, type of challenge, etc.)|
|Narrow it down even more, if possible.|
|What are their hopes:|
|What are their dreams:|
|What are their fears:|
|What are their frustrations:|
|What is the way you serve them:|
|When their problem is solved, what will it look like?|
|What is the path that takes them from where they are, to where they want to be?|
|Combine your answers above to describe your business niche.|