How To Choose The Right Niche

December 24, 2019

I’m Kim.
I’m an M.D.-turned-entrepreneur and I’m dedicated to helping you build your dream career + lifestyle. Welcome to my blog, where I write (and podcast) about wellness, business + success!
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Do you have a specific niche for your wellness coaching business? Or…are you avoiding making this decision? Are you worried about limiting yourself? In my latest podcast episode, I’m talking about everything related to NICHE, so if this is something you’ve been stressing about or struggling with, then this one is for you! (Also, if you DO already have a niche for your business, you’re still going to find this one valuable because I’m going to help you validate and confirm that the niche you’ve chosen is the right one for you!)

So a question I’m asked all the time, especially by new coaches, is: do I REALLY need to choose a niche?

And I absolutely understand the hesitation! 

The concept of choosing a specific niche is something that makes a lot of wellness coaches break out in a sweat. 

A lot of coaches worry about which niche is the right one for them. They worry it will be too limiting. They worry they’ll get sick of it. They have no idea how to figure out if there’s any demand for the niche they’re interested in…and all those concerns and questions just create a whole bunch of indecision.

I hear the resistance about choosing a niche all the time.

And maybe it sounds familiar. Maybe you’ve had some of the same concerns and thoughts and questions. 

So in the latest episode of my podcast — which just released today — I tackle this issue, and talk to you about why it’s important to choose a niche—in fact, why it can make or break your business—and then I talk about exactly HOW to choose the perfect niche for your business.

If you’d prefer to listen to this topic than read it…you can tune in right here:

First, let’s talk about WHY you need a niche.

Here’s my take on the niche issue.

I believe that as you’re building your business, quite frankly you need to Niche or Go Home.

But here’s the reason why so many new coaches resist this idea:

When you go on your own wellness journey, you learn all these amazing things  about health, nutrition, and wellness.

You feel like you’ve been granted a secret key to the universe.

There are all these amazing things you can do to take control of your health and wellbeing, prevent disease, improve your longevity…

…and you feel like you want to shout it from the rooftops, and help as many people as you can. 

And maybe, in an ideal world, this might be true. Yes, everybody could benefit from improving their diet, moving more, sleeping more, managing stress…all those key pillars of wellness…

…but when you’re building your business, it’s critical for you to identify a very specific person you want to work with, otherwise known as your ideal client. And you also need to identify a very specific problem you solve for that person.

And what that means is choosing a very clearly defined, narrow niche.

Now, I was on a discovery call earlier this week, and the woman was a very talented, highly skilled coach, knew lots about wellness, was really passionate…but she was ALL OVER the place and very vague about who she could help and the kind of work she could do.

She wanted to work with cancer patients, and maybe also people with IBS, and possibly even kids because she really enjoyed that, but she knew she could really helps adults, and she also had an idea that maybe she was well-positioned to help people with trauma….anyway, you get the idea.

I know this may seem like kind of an extreme example, but it’s actually a very helpful example to demonstrate what I mean. Most people aren’t QUITE so all over the map as this particular coach, but many people have a few different ideas and themes that they’re wavering between, and the effect on their business is the same as what was going on for this woman..

Because the thing is, she told me she couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t able to convince people to work with her. This was legitimately confusing for her. Because from HER perspective, she could help so many people—how come nobody was taking her up on it? She also had a great connection with some physicians in the hospital where she working, and they were curious in her coaching programs, enough to turn up to a workshop she was giving…but when it came to referring their patients, they were non-committal, disinterested, and kind of meh. And she couldn’t understand this.

But to me, it was as clear as day. As she was describing what she’d been doing, and how she was going about presenting herself, and pitching her services, it became very obvious where the disconnect was.

She didn’t have a clearly dialed-in niche.

From her perspective, she wanted to help everyone.  But as the fabulous Marie Forleo says: “If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody.”

And I couldn’t possibly agree with this more. What happens is that your message won’t resonate, it’s not going to click with anyone in particular, and you’ll have great difficulty truly connecting with your ideal clients.

Think of it this way. If you had really dry skin and you went to a store to find something to help you get some relief…and on the shelf were two boxes. One was labeled: SKIN CARE PRODUCT. And the other was labeled: NOURISHING CREAM FOR EXTRA-DRY SKIN.

Which one would you buy?

Obviously, the nourishing cream for extra-dry skin! It’s exactly what you need, it’s what you were looking for. And why would you take a chance on the vague product, the one that may or may not actually be intended for you and your skin problem.

So it’s the exact same with your coaching services. 

If you want people to actually buy your services, to give you money, and commit their time…they need to be crystal clear that you are actually the person to help them. You are the person they have been looking for. And there needs to be no confusion in their mind. 

Now, obviously, what that means is that you are going to be turning away people who aren’t your ideal client. And I think this is where people get stuck a bit, and start to panic. 

And that’s often because it’s quite natural to feel a certain amount of desperation to enrol clients in the beginning, when you’re just getting started, and you’re desperate to prove to yourself that this business venture of yours can work, maybe to prove to other people in your life, like your partner, and also you’re very motivated to get some cash coming in. So I absolutely get that it can feel very scary to be intentionally turning people off. But you can’t have it both ways. In order to deeply, and emotionally resonate with your ideal client, that is, by definition, going to mean that people who aren’t your ideal client may click away, and realize you’re not really the right coach for them. That is okay. You can let them go. There are more than enough people who ARE in your ideal client category—well, if you choose your niche properly and well, that is—but you’re going to have to be okay with people self-selecting in AND out of your community. It’s just part of the process. 

Okay, deal? 

Good. Now, let’s move forward and figure out how to actually choose your niche. The perfect niche for you.

HOW To Choose The Perfect Niche

Before we get started, I want to mention that I have a free workbook that you can download (17 pages of prompts and exercises to help walk you through this process!). Here’s the link to grab that workbook:

So in this article I’m going to outline my 5-step process to choosing the perfect niche for your wellness coaching business. This is the process I take my private clients through, this is one of the tools I use to help my client discover exactly who they’re meant to serve and the kind of work they are meant to do.

Step #1: Start brainstorming about your “WHY”

By this, I mean WHY you want to be a health coach. Why you are drawn to this business, this life…and what your purpose is here, how you want to help people.

At this stage we’re just brainstorming. So make yourself a cup of tea, pull out your journal and sit down for a stretch of time to free-form write about what you love about the wellness field. Who are the type of people you love to work with? What topics do you love to talk about? What experiences and training do you already possess?

What inspired you to start this business? What do you believe in? Who do you admire professionally and why? What sort of things do you do in your free time? What would you be doing if money were no object?

I also want you to consider what you WANT out of your business–what’s your hope? How do you want your business to look? Do you want to coach 1-to-1, or do online courses? Build a large company with a big team under you, or stay scrappy and flexible so you can travel the world? What’s your vision?

Step #2: Now go deeper.

After your initial brainstorming, I want you to go deeper into your own story.

In your journal, I want you to dig a bit deeper and think about what, specifically, brought you to the wellness field? What struggles have you dealt with? Have you had a journey to healing? What have you overcome? What are the most authentic health issues for you, personally?

And I also want you to consider your strengths: What are you good at? What comes naturally for you? What skills and gifts do you possess? What gives you the most satisfaction at your current job? What do people thank you for doing? What do people always seem to ask you for help with–and that you enjoy doing?

But when I say deeper, I also want you to dig deeper into WHO you want to serve:

Who is your ideal client?

What problems do they have, that they need solved?

What are they struggling with?

What are their dream outcomes or solutions to their problems? What do they believe in? What are their values? Their worldview?

Step # 3: Analyze

After all that journaling and brainstorming and reflection…I want you to get up, go outside and go for a walk, or a run. A little fresh air, and some time in nature (if you’re like me, it’s a run by the ocean). And when you come back, it’s time to look back over all your pages. What stands out? Are there recurring themes? Generate a shortlist of potential niches. Start to analyze how you feel about each of them. At this point you may want to get specific about your analysis by writing out a list of pros and cons. Explore your thoughts about each of your top options.

Make a short list of your best options, and try them on in your mind. Which one aligns best with your vision for your future? Which one makes you feel excited?

Consider each idea: are you willing to do what it takes to be one of the top in that particular field? Do you have the experience or skills to function within this niche–or the willingness to do whatever it takes to acquire those? Is there a clearly defined, easy to reach market of people ALREADY SPENDING MONEY on this kind of product or service?

It’s important, with whatever niche you choose, that there is a ready market to serve, people who will be highly motivated to buy your services.

Now, you may not know, just yet, if there’s a market, and we’ll be talking about this more in the steps to come, but I want you to start considering your niche from this perspective, because it may make a difference in choosing between two or more options. If all other things are equal, but you suspect that one niche has a more eager market, or one that is easier to reach than others….that may be the way to go.

Step # 4: Synthesize & formulate your niche

Hopefully, at this point, one particular niche has risen to the top. If it feels right, get clear and specific on this niche. At this point, you’ll want to formulate a short sentence or mission statement for your business, your services, or your offer. To nail down the specifics of your with this statement:

I am a health coach who helps [ideal clients—be as specific as possible] who are struggling with [specific issue] to [the service you provide] so they can [the benefit to your clients].

Here’s an example: I am a health coach who helps new mothers who are struggling with emotional eating to create healthy eating habits and patterns so they can get back to their pre-baby weight and feel great.

Or take another example: I am a health coach who helps female university students who are struggling with chronic digestive complaints to clean up their diet and cultivate healthy habits so they can feel comfortable in their day-to-day and get on with life.

Step # 5: Test it out

This testing and evaluation phase has a few steps to it.

First, to get started, you’re going to test it out informally, and with people close to you: talk to a confidante, try out your new mission statement, and see how it lands. Does it feel authentic for you? Does it feel good? What kind of feedback did you get? When you’re talking about it, do you get excited about future prospects? If yes—you’re on the right track.

But once you’ve got some informal feedback from people close to you, and from within yourself, you need to test out your niche in a more rigorous way and do some more detailed market research. Do not skip this step. After all, if you’re pursuing a particular niche, you’re going to be investing a lot of time, energy, and possibly money into it…so you really want to do your due diligence, as much as possible, to make sure it’s going to fly.

So here’s what you need to do: survey your potential clients.

With this, your goal is to talk to as many people as you can who fit your target market. Do whatever it takes to access these people. In my experience, Facebook groups are amazing for this kind of research, but there are other avenues. Perhaps you know a number of people in real life who would fit your ideal client profile, or maybe there are acquaintances and people who you could be referred to by a mutual friend…or maybe you need to physically GO to places where you’re likely to encounter your ideal client–like your yoga studio, for example–and just start making conversations with people.

At this point, you’re just exploring and gathering information. You’re not pitching yourself, you’re just looking for information.

Ask people things like: What are your main struggles? What are your frustrations? What would get better in your life if this problem were solved? What does this struggle cost you in terms of lost money, time, or quality of life? What’s your dream solution? Have you ever paid for a service to help you with this? Would you consider paying for something that would help?

Then, once you’ve got loads of data from several people, you want to survey some industry experts.

I want you to make connections with at least a handful of professionals who are working in this industry–ideally in this niche, but it can be a closely related niche if not your exact one. Have conversations with them, an actual phone chat or in-person, or email conversation–whatever works. These are people who are successful in this field. Gathering this info can save you enormous amounts of effort, possibly years of struggling with common, novice errors. Again, Facebook groups (like Health Coach Squad) can be great places to find peers and experts–many are at the same stage as you, but you’re looking to find people who are at least a few years further down the path than you.

Questions to ask them:

  • How did you find your first clients?
  • What were your first 1-2 years in business like?
  • What were the biggest mistakes you made–or that you’ve seen novices make–when getting into health coaching?
  • What was the biggest waste of time?
  • In your opinion, what skills are crucial for success in this business?
  • What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to those first few years as a health coach?

As you do this final step, testing and surveying and gathering real-world information…you may discover that you don’t have this quite right. You are getting a lot of signals back that your niche isn’t landing quite right.

But that’s okay! It’s better to know that NOW, than a year or two down the road, when you’re frustrated and fed up…and broke. Head back to the drawing board and repeat the steps as often as you need to.

I strongly recommend that you do not move forward until you’ve made a decision, and chosen a clear direction.

Let’s Recap…

The five steps to choosing the perfect wellness niche for you, are:

  1. Brainstorm on big picture themes, your why, etc.
  2. Go deeper and really take a deep look at your own story, your own journey, and who you really want to serve.
  3. Analyze everything and generate a short list of possible niches.
  4. Run your ideas through a short list of questions to select your best one, and formulate it into a mission statement.
  5. Test your idea through potential client surveys & expert interviews

Okay, that’s a lot of stuff. There were a lot of questions in there, and your head may feel like it’s going to explode.

Which is why I invite you to check out my guide & workbook, specifically designed help coaches select the right wellness niche for their businesses. Go ahead and click the link in the show notes and you can grab that workbook for free, and then get started!

Okay, that’s all for today. 

Thanks so much for tuning in, I really love talking about this topic…and I find it is so foundational to helping coaches move forward with their businesses. It’s such a key piece—and it’s not an easy piece to sort out—but once you DO get it figured out, either by yourself, or through working with a coach — so many things can shift with your business, and everything really springs organically from this foundation. Get it wrong, or — wrose—avoid choosing a niche altogether and you have created what I believe is a shaky foundation, and you’re going to struggle a lot more to get liftoff in your business.

Okay, this has been fun, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and I’ll talk to you again soon!


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