Most coaches who come to me haven’t chosen a clear niche.
It’s not that they don’t see the value in having a niche. Most of the people I talk to understand that it’s hard to attract clients as a generalist. They want to be able to clearly articulate who they help, what they help with, and how they do it
But choosing a niche can feel like an impossible task. And one of the reasons for that is because it’s actually kind of scary. When you understand the irrational fears that coaches have around niching, you can start to dismantle them one by one.
Here are four of the most common fears that coaches have when it comes to choosing a niche:
Fear #1: Narrowing your passions and potential clients
If you’re someone who has wisdom to share in multiple areas of life, or if you’re easily bored, choosing a single niche can feel limiting. Limiting in terms of what you get to help people with and limiting in terms of who you get to serve.
You might be thinking, “What if I declare a specific niche and then I cross paths with someone who I can really help but who falls outside of my niche? Won’t I lose that client?"
The short answer is No. Here’s why: the main role of a niche is for one-to-many marketing. This is the type of marketing you do with your website, or when you’re putting a message out on social media, or when you ask a friend for referrals. Your niche is a message you share with many people at once.
The liberating thing is, you are 100% allowed to take on clients who fall outside of your niche when you’re in a 1:1 interaction. For example, if you meet someone at a networking event, you can tailor your message to what that person wants. The job of your marketing (to get awareness) is already done at that point.
Throughout the years, I’ve taken on plenty of clients who fall outside of my stated niche. For example, one of my recent clients, Tamara is a consultant and not a coach.
Your niche is simply the channel through which clients come to you. Without a clear channel, no one comes to you. But once you choose a channel, whatever that channel is, you’re able to work on whatever is going to help that client.
Many people come to me for help getting clients and then, as part of that journey, I get to help them with their productivity, mindset, and even their relationships. But if I hadn’t been specific about the main problem I solve, they would never have come to me in the first place.
Think about it this way: When you declare a niche, you’ll attract a specific group of people. Not everyone. But if you stay broad and abstract, you’ll attract no one.
If you still feel uncomfortable with the idea of focusing on just one of your passions, remember that you can always start another coaching business in a new niche once you’ve learned how to get clients. Then you can have two separate brands, each of which resonate with a specific type of client.
Fear #2: Choosing the wrong niche
There are two things that can go wrong here:
You choose a niche that no one wants to pay for
You choose a niche that you end up hating
Either way, you would end up pivoting
And if you pivot, won’t people see that and take you less seriously?
Actually no. The good thing and the bad thing about starting a coaching business is that no one actually cares what you’re doing. People aren’t paying nearly as much attention to your business as you might think.
As long as you’re thoughtful about your pivot, as long as you create a clear narrative around it, and as long as you don’t change niches every single week, you’re allowed to pivot.
Remember that you’re not committing to this niche for the next 10 years. You’re just looking for your next batch of clients.
When it comes to niching, the worst choice is no choice.
Most people think that they need to get clarity before taking action. But the truth is, action comes before clarity most of the time. You can only get so far in your own head before you need to test your ideas in the real world.
Fear #3: Not communicating your niche effectively
What if you choose a niche, and then you don’t get the wording quite right, and then people don’t understand, and then no one wants to work with you?
This is actually a valid fear. If you’re not able to articulate your niche in a compelling way, you’re going to have trouble attracting clients. When I work with clients, we develop a one sentence “curiosity hook” that makes the right people want to learn more and book a consult.
But here’s the truth: in most cases, one sentence isn’t going to lose you a potential client.
It’s the sum total of people’s interactions with you that makes them want to work together.
The content you create, the client case studies you share, and the trust you build with people are just as important as how you choose to word your niche.
It’s okay to test out a few different ways of describing what you do and tweaking that description over time until it works.
Fear #4: Promising a result that you can’t deliver
When I’m coaching people around their niche, I always tell them to get as tangible and specific as possible with what they help people achieve.
This is important because it takes something that feels nebulous (like “I help women step into their power”) and makes it specific (“I help women find their soul mate”).
But when you start to get specific, it actually puts you on the line a little bit. Because if you say you help women step into their power, that has some wiggle room. How do we know if you were successful or not?
But if you help women find their soul mate, now we have a clear picture of what success looks like. And while that fear is a good sign that you’re headed in the right direction, a lot of coaches worry that they now have to guarantee a specific result for everyone they work with.
Look: You can never guarantee results for your clients because you can’t guarantee whether they will actually do the work. And that’s something you can say outright to every potential client you speak with. It will empower them.
But no one is saying you have to promise a result that you can’t deliver. In fact, I recommend underpromising and overdelivering. So feel free to ratchet down the result communicate to potential clients.
There’s a lesson inside of every fear
Just because you shouldn’t let the above fears stop you doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something from them.
These fears are a reminder to be thoughtful about the niche you choose and to communicate it in a way that people will understand. When in doubt, choose something that you feel super confident about helping people with. Pick a proven and profitable niche whenever possible. And frame what you do in terms of what your potential clients want (not in terms of what you think they need).
People invest in coaching because they want to have a feeling of certainty. Putting a stake in the ground around what you help clients with is attractive and will give people the confidence to hire you.