Why selecting a niche is so dang hard and what you really need to do

A friend recently asked, “When you were starting did you have any difficulty pinpointing your niche?” Here’s how I answered:

Selecting a niche is difficult.

Yes, I’ve had difficulty pinpointing my niche. And I’ve been through many niches: I thought I wanted my niche to be leaders in IT (because of my background), small business (because I thought I didn’t have the experience/cred to coach in large businesses), teams (because I liked and still like coaching teams), mid-career professionals looking to change careers, sales and marketing VPs, …
I stumbled by staying too broad and feared narrowing my focus. If I narrow my niche, aren’t I cutting off potential clients and limiting my income?
I’ve also worried that selecting one niche would set me up for disappointment. What if I chose the wrong niche, dedicated a bunch of time and energy to it then discovered that there’s a better niche out there for me? Or what if I found something that I really like but couldn’t do or failed at? That would be crushing.

What you really need to do

Of course, I mentor/coach/teach others that
  • selecting a niche lets you go deep and, paradoxically, increases your marketplace because more people are attracted to your understanding of them and the depth of your offer.
  • you need not pick one niche for now and evermore. In fact, there’s no way of knowing that what you choose now is what you’ll stick with.
  • you can pick something now, start working it, learn along the way (which I have done), and adjust your focus/niche later based on what you know then that you can’t know now.
  • your best guide is your feelings, not your intellect. Though your intellect helps tremendously, going with what feels good is always best. The SweetSpot process I described to you is a way to get to those feelings and use your intellect for all its worth, too.
  • others will respond very well to you when you really feel plugged into your SweetSpot/niche.
When I applied this teaching to myself, I saw that my niche is helping others (individuals and organizations) find then succeed in their niche. Odd, huh?

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