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Episode 36 – Choosing A Niche – Why Narrowing It Down Opens Up Your Options

Cat TravelingAre you finding it hard to choose your business niche?

Many people thinking of starting a business find it difficult to decide on something to specialize in.

This can be a sticking point for YEARS.

They hear they should pick a niche, but when it comes to the moment where they have to choose JUST ONE, they have a really hard time.

Why is that?

The benefits of having a niche are massive

If you are marketing to a specific group of people you can really focus in and create products and services that address their needs.

Those people will much prefer something made with them in mind to any more generic product.

In a practical sense, it is extremely difficult to grow a community if people are receiving mixed messages from you. You can’t send information on growing a business one week and then talk about relationships the next.

Essentially if your marketing material appeals to everyone then it appeals to no one.

That means if you go to generic your efforts on blogging are wasted and the money you spend on ads yields no returns.

So you really do want to be narrowing down the group of people you serve or the problem you solve.

The trade is this: Instead of having an almost miniscule chance of someone from a large group of people buying from you, you have a much better chance of someone from a smaller group of people buying.

And the second option adds up to a lot more buyers.

Plus, if you are a specialist you can charge more for what you do and who doesn’t like earning more?!

In theory, this all sounds great. So where’s the problem?

The problem is choosing a niche feels like narrowing down your options

And narrowing down your options feels counter-intuitive. Especially if you are the creative, freedom-loving type.

No one wants to miss out. No one wants to get boxed in. So there is a fundamental mental block that people experience around choosing a niche.

You start asking yourself:

– but why would I turn people away who might want my product?

– why can’t I help more people?

I’d like to show how through “niching” in my life I have been able to give myself MORE options and then show you why this is

Before I had a business I worked in IT. In the beginning, I didn’t have a lot of choice over what area I worked in so I had to start with what I was given. As soon as I had a job I started plotting. Yes, plotting ;-)

The last thing I wanted was for someone else to have control over my destiny and to dictate how I ran my life. I was looking at ways to give myself options.

I looked at the skills I was learning at work and began searching on to work out how I could move into a field that was specialized enough to make it easy to get high paid work but open enough so that I had a choice over which cities (and countries) I could work in.

At the time I had no idea about niches, I was thinking of it in terms of specialization. I was looking to get in a position where I could be free in terms of location, be in a position of authority and be paid well.

I managed to get myself into a niche in the IT market and as the market changed I continued to adjust so that I was always in a place where I was a specialist and in demand but in a relatively small field.

Through this ‘niching’ I was able to:

  • Get work in a new city at a company I wanted to go to even though they had no vacant positions.
  • Quit my job and go traveling for 3 months (see photo) without worrying about getting work when I got back.
  • Pick up a lucrative contract role after the trip where I could earn enough money to fly across the Atlantic to see the man I  met traveling by about 2 pm on any workday.
  • Get a visa to emigrate to Australia where I now live.
  • Get a job in the new country I was moving to before I even got on the plane

If I had stayed a generalist I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the above with the possible exception of emigrating.

In my life niching it down has been anything but narrowing it down.

Specializing has been the key to living life on my terms

In business, the story is not dissimilar. My business concentrates on finding a person their best business idea to get them started in business. This is an area that is covered by other coaches but very few specialize in it.

This niche has led to:

  • Having my first client before I even expected it and having to pull an all weekender to get my materials completely ready in time
  • Being approached by other industry experts to partner within a short period of being in business.
  • Being able to grow my following much quicker than the industry average.

Narrowing down seems so counter-intuitive – so why does it work?

It works because you are making yourself an exact fit for a big enough group of people to make the numbers add up.

When faced with choosing you or choosing a generalist it’s a no-brainer.

If you needed heart surgery you aren’t going to your GP to get it. You want the big guns, the ones who know what they are doing.

I know what you are thinking though, so let’s take another example.

Let’s say you are a Life Coach and you genuinely can help someone start a new career or save his or her marriage… what then?

Choosing to be a Life Coach with no niche (and there are many ways of niching), means choosing to stay small.

It means choosing to stay small because your marketing will be too generic to take hold. You can’t run ads because there will be no return on investment and any other marketing efforts will likely have a similar effect.

You are going to be running a word of mouth business.

Choosing a niche doesn’t mean this is the only problem you can solve.

It means it’s the problem you are choosing to solve right now, in order to get a foothold in the marketplace, start your business and help people move forward.

Choosing one specialty gives you specialty status, which means you can charge more.

If other clients come to you and want to work with you, you don’t turn them away, at least at the beginning stages of business, unless you want to.

So if you’re feeling constrained thinking about choosing a niche, remember these two important points

  1. You can always branch out later
  2. Most likely choosing a niche is going to be opening doors for you, rather than closing them…

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