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To Niche or not to Niche…. That is the Question

As we start 2020 more and people are getting involved with coaching. As the broadsheet newspapers have stated we are in the “Boom” time for coaching.  One of the most difficult  conundrums for any newly qualified coach while setting up their business is about “Niche” . Having  been a coach for ten years now, this is one of the most discussed topics in the  coaching community. There is pressure from all sidesto have a coaching niche.  This is where we need to be clear on the difference between a niche and a demographic. A niche is a specific area of expertise a coach has or knowledge or  understanding of the  clients’ specific challenge, which is different to the group defined by age, gender, location or business function the coach wishes to target. This is the demographic.

However the more interesting question is around how do we define our niche. The current vogue in coaching has been to have a very well defined and narrow niche.  This has worked well for some coaches, but others have struggled firstly to define it and secondly  to ensure that this niche does resonate in the market place. I will take a contrary view, in that it is best to start off with a wider nice initially which will give you a greater  catchment.  Interestingly this is in contrast to some of my “Lean” consulting work, where we guide teams in a lot of situations to be narrow and focused, almost laser sight vs scatter gun.  However there is some consistency. If you are a follower of the 80/20 rule, there is an analogy. Having a mindset of 80/20 allows you to get moving earlier without all the building blocks in place and can overcome some of that fear of getting out there.

Making the first step with any new venture is always one of the hardest. If there is an opportunity to get some quick wins with a wider approach, then I would advocate that. A quick win builds confidence too.  It is also about getting traction. Traction enables you to learn what went well, and what didn’t, which is  a further opportunity to refine your niche. One final point is around the current critical business reality of VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous). This means that we will have stay on our toes and keep looking for new opportunities which may mean multiple niches.  I constantly remind both consulting  and coaching clients to keep updating the vision, and work with a two year horizon.

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