Has your niche changed? Tell us the story

Question: Has your niche changed since you began your business?

Most entrepreneurs I know are convinced that the word entrepreneur might just be a French word for failure. They’ve tried so many things that haven’t worked. In my experience, this is normal. 

Most of my colleagues (who are now very successful) went through a number of niches before they landed on their current one.

SF-Logo-ColourMy mother Laura and her husband Sherwood run a tree farm near Edmonton, Alberta. Of course, it your name is Sherwood and you run a tree farm – you basically have to name it Sherwood’s Forests. When they first began their business, they felt pretty clear about who two of their target markets were – garden centers and landscapers.

Easy!

Niching problem solved.

But, it wasn’t so easy as that.

It turned out garden centers had their own suppliers already and wanted trees for less money than made sense to them to sell and weren’t as concerned about quality as they were. And landscapers had their own trusted suppliers too and needed bigger trees because, when someone hires a landscaper, they want an instant landscape. They don’t want little, healthy trees that will eventually grow big and strong. They want larger trees (that will likely die).

But then, they began to be approached by reclamation companies who told them, ‘your trees are the perfect size for us!’. They had to spend a few years spiraling around their niche before it was clear. 

When I first began my career, I thought my niche would be helping green retail stores and restaurants. But it ended up being almost entirely service providers. 

I could give you this exact same story for countless entrepreneurs who began their business imagining that Audience A would be their people, only to find out it was really Audience Q.  In the beginning, we’re only making educated guesses about what our best niche will be. If your niche has switched a number of times – it’s normal. 

If your niche has changed, can you fill in the blanks below and tell us about it? I’d love to include it in my new ebook I’m working on called The Niching Spiral. By posting it below you’re giving me permission to share it in my ebook. Please include your website if you like. 

“When I began, I thought my niche would be _________ because _______ but it turns out it’s _________ because __________.”

About Tad

  • When my brother and I began, I thought a big niche for us would be other trainers, facilitators, coaches or group process practitioners because they’d really “get” what we do and would be interested in learning some new tools… but it turns out that… in our start up phase (we’ve been building this for just a little over a year) it’s actually been friends, friends of friends and clients from previous work lives with whom we have mutual trust because the work we do gets deep into the realms of soul and transformation – and that requires a great deal of trust and comfort. Basically, our entire niche so far has come from a pool of people that already know, trust and like us. I expect that will change with time, but this is not the niche I identified during our startup planning!

    Thanks, and I look forward to the completion of your book Tad.

    Robi
    http://www.centrespoke.com

  • “When I began, I thought my niche would be consciousness & healing because that was the path I was on personally but it turns out it’s International House Sitting because it’s so much lighter & free-er to be traveling the world, receiving unconditional love from pets and naturally talking about this amazing lifestyle journey (and consciousness still comes into the conversation, but in a much more flowing way) .”

  • thank you! what an amazing switch! i love it.

  • thanks!

  • Iris P. Weaver

    I’ve always known that my mission in life is to walk the healing path with others. However, when I first started my business over 15 years ago, I thought I would help heal any and all abuse and trauma survivors. I had to find that the avenue to bringing healing is through herbs/plant medicine and connection with Spirit (hence I am a shamanic herbalist) and I had to narrow my offerings waaay down. I have gone through many iterations of what I offer, but I have finally found that my niche is working with people who are on meds for depression and/or anxiety who need more than the meds can offer or are looking to get off the meds. Very simple, very profound, and very satisfying. My website is irisweaver.com. BTW, thanks for asking about my niche!

  • Irina Baranov

    When I began, I thought my niche would be transformational life coaching for people who wanted to start a “new chapter” in their lives. I’ve always loved helping people get unstuck and figure out their next steps. As a life-long student of positive psychology, and a certified coach, it seemed like I was taking the next right step in my own “new chapter” after leaving behind a successful 20 year marketing career in corporate and non-profit sectors.

    But it turns out that I still love business, and still love business people who are driven, focused and have clear goals. I find that working in the space of executive coaching is so much less frustrating and more effective (for me and for them) than working in the space of general life coaching (which attracted mostly people that I needed to refer to other professionals).

    I now know that I’m at my best when I’m connecting (in coaching, speaking or consulting) with business audiences. And that thing that I was afraid of… that there wouldn’t be many heart-centered, soul-centered, sweet souls in that world? I didn’t need to be afraid. They’re there (they’re everywhere!). Will this niche be my final one? Probably not. :-) But as you told me, Tad (best. advice. ever.) – sometimes we don’t get to speed up the process, and it takes as long as it takes for our niche to find us, while we’re out in the world doing our good work and connecting with good people. Thank you for being one of them!

    http://www.IrinaBaranov.com

  • thanks Irina! i love that not knowing your final niche 100% hasn’t immobilized you. it does for so many people.

  • what an incredibly clear niche. and what a gift your work must be for those people.

  • colleenadrian

    When I began 4 years ago, I thought I was going to provide alternative healing therapies for clients who were seeking relief from physical and emotional pain on their paths of personal growth. Of course, after learning about why my niche needed to be narrower (!!), I began to focus on working with clients who have learning challenges, especially ADD, and began to train further in that specific area.

    Now, I am a parent educator and coach for conscious parents who wish to connect more powerfully with their children, especially in conflict, and support their children to listen to their intuition and live authentic, heart-centered lives. All of the knowledge and experience I gained in those other endeavours has been invaluable for doing my current work, and I know that I’ve arrived at a niche I’ll be working with for a while because people are resonating with my story and are naturally drawn to work with me when they hear me speak about parenting. And the common thread throughout the process is that I’ve been teaching what I need to learn to heal and grow.

    Thanks for asking, and thanks for your contribution to my knowledge about niching Tad. I look forward to your book!
    Colleen
    http://www.crystalclearliving.ca

  • Cim Bartlett

    When I began I thought my niche would be women who want to re-discover their sparkle in life, because that is what I did through my life journey. I came across many women who been “sleepwalking” through their life and didn’t know what to do about it. Hurray – I thought, this is a brilliant niche. But it
    turns out it was tricky to get the business going as the niche was too general.

    Then my niche grow into women who want to have more spark in their relationship with their partner, intimately and sexually. Hurrrrray – I thought, this is really the niche…because there are many couples out there struggling with intimacy and sex. But it turned out it’s not easy to market and sell. My clients weren’t that willing to share about working with me.

    Now my niche is to work with people (women) who want to feel confident speaking and performing – I call it ‘Speak with Confidence – Befriend your Nerves‘. It’s something I’ve always done naturally, helping people coping with their nerves before public speaking or performing in some way, and I bring in the Sparkle of course. All niches still with a spark!

    Thank you Tad for your support and encouragement to get going

    with what I set out to do!

    Cim*

    http://www.rediscoversparkle.com/speak-with-confidence/

  • Pookie Galore

    I started off my life in a library and managing a book store, and started my own business making recycled art and jewelry. This was ok, but a chance encounter led to me working with someone in publishing and author services. Now, I’m looking to start coaching locally on publishing. It’s weird how it kinda circled around.

  • mary choo

    When I began to learn about niching I thought my niche would
    be working with people who were self-sabotaging themselves. Their self-doubt
    stopped them from being able to hear and trust their hearts inner guidance. As I
    had quite a few one-on-one clients who were in this space I wrote a short
    course using Kinesiology and Mindfulness to help them overcome this block but
    when I tried to run it as a small group training I discovered it was not what
    they wanted. They were not looking for this sort of training in a group but
    preferred the one on one approach. So Tad the feedback you gave me about them
    not being able to see themselves as self-sabotaging was right. They did not like
    to think of themselves as self-sabotaging and I also think also the thought of
    dealing with this in a group was too overwhelming. I learned from this we often
    develop a strong denial system to deal with memories of past trauma and abuse
    and it takes time to feel safe to come out of denial and be able to acknowledge what happened to
    us . I realized my niche needed to change. Digging a bit deeper with kinesiology I
    realized pressurizing people to do this against their will lacks empathy and
    understanding and is itself another act of abuse (and also a reflection of my
    own denial system in action).

    SO…Tad I went back to your Niching for Hippies drawing board
    and looked at what was the bottom line of what I really wanted to share with
    people. It was that I wanted to support people to be able to hear the inner
    guidance of their hearts above the chatter of their minds and mass of external
    distractions that surround us in our busy lives. I felt dealing with mind
    chatter was the way to go .A lot of my clients complained of feeling
    overwhelmed and stressed because of their constant mind chatter that distracted
    them from focusing on one thing at a time and getting it done. A lot of them
    were working mothers with small children so I wrote a free download report called
    “Making Time For Me” and I am now
    developing a course “Self Care for busy Women” using Kinesiology and Mindfulness to
    help them make time in their busy schedule to nurture themselves and reconnect
    with what in their hearts feels true for them. I am getting a good response and
    it is helping me to learn how to socialize and navigate the social media in a
    way that feels safe. This is helping me build my confidence and overcome my old
    coping mechanism of withdrawing and avoiding mixing with people in social
    situations. It might even by my own inner heart guidance pushing me to do it! I feel at the moment this is the right niche
    for me although I am open to the fact that it may develop and change over time –
    who knows – maybe another spiral of my niche will evolve.

    One thing I do know though Tad is that your Niching for
    Hippies course really helped me get started. I appreciate all the help and encouragement
    you gave us and I would really like to buy a copy of the book when it comes
    out.

  • Mary! thank you so much for sharing this :-)

  • brizone

    I thought my niche would be grassroots organizing, then databases and information technology, then telecommunications, then renewable energy, but now I’m really doing strategic planning and non-profit management for the original solar energy society. I feel like I continue to surf my niches, because I’ve done a lot of things, and they all seem to build upon each other to take my upward to my next project.

    My new niche would probably be something like this last piece, helping many groups. But I dunno, I’m up to my eyeballs in work for one client right now, so don’t have time to think about it.

  • Val Geisler

    Hi Tad! I just found your site and I feel like I’m home!

    When I began aspire&grow, I thought my niche would be coaching because I had spent the past two years as a coach and that was the foundation of my business in the first place. As it turned out, my coaching clients were all budding entrepreneurs who wanted to know how to get setup, get organized, and get the behind the scenes of their business up and running. Since I had spent the 6 years prior to coaching keeping people organized and efficient and I had just gone through the growing pains of starting my own business, I was the perfect fit as an online business manager (sometimes called a virtual assistant). And now, as my business continues to evolve and I get consistent feedback from my clients, aspire&grow is diving back into it’s roots as a coaching model, combining that with the experience working in and on so many different businesses, and I’m shifting into a project management role with a team of specialized virtual assistants ready to support my clients in all they do. I love letting the business have a life of it’s own. If you listen, you can really hear exactly what steps you need to take next.

    Val Geisler
    http://www.aspireandgrow.com

  • love it!

  • Oshikan Sjodin-Bunse

    Tad, I think titling your upcoming book, “The Niching Spiral” is spot on. I don’t know what your inspiration was for this name but for me a spiral symbolizes how we circle around and around, getting closer and closer to…BINGO!!!

    Many years ago, my experience with learning Shiatsu and Acupuncture in Japan was that the way I was being taught by my various teachers appeared to me as a spiral. Being from a western culture, it sometimes frustrated me that the teaching was not more linear but the spiral kept spiraling and one day I really understood – on a deep level! I comprehended the underlying poetry and logic and ‘feel’ about meridians and acupuncture points.

    For us westerners, maybe it is the cultural experience of expecting our life to follow a linear fast track and then expecting to stay on it for life, that has frustrated so many of us on our niche finding journey. Maybe for some of us it is the, “Name of the Life Game” to have various work interests at different times in our lives. Each interest, though at first glance they may look somewhat unrelated, all have a ‘red thread’. These red threads can be woven into a beautiful patchwork quilt. We can lovingly share our quilt with those in our tribe. Even if it isn’t 100% finished and will never be perfect, it can still warm them.

    In answer to your above question: “When I began, I thought my niche would be Shiatsu because I love the many-faceted aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine and its great healing power. Then I felt that this chapter in my life needed to close and I became a Healing Practitioner for Psychotherapy and a Professional Coach. With this change, the spiral drew smaller and I felt that I was closer to how I could even better help folks.

    When it was time to contemplate during the coach training who I would like to coach and on what topics, my first inner answer was that I would help others who have had a difficult mother relationship, as I have personally had wounding and healing plus training in this area. Then I was told by a psychologist that this topic should be left exclusively in the realm of therapy. So I abandoned the idea out of fear that I could not serve well enough with my positive psychology training, relationship coach training and personal experience.

    I became instead a coach for long-term expats who desire to build a fulfilling life abroad (just like me). I enjoy this topic, but again, one day it just didn’t seem like this was/is my way of best helping folks anymore. So, with the help of meditation, contemplation, finding your life purpose courses and good conversations, the idea of helping people who have had a difficult mother relationship bubbled up from deep within yet once again.

    It is time to heed this call. I do not yet have a helicopter perspective of how all my red threads tie together, but I suspect that it has something to do with me becoming more confident that I know what I know. I have gotten in touch with my very core of how I can best be of service in this world (at this time in my life). Thank you Inner Wisdom! I am now curious how all will unfold.

    Naysayers can remind to tread carefully and I respect this. I also know that it takes a lot of courage to break taboos and be a pioneer and I am quaking in my boots. It is the Yes-Sayers that keep me in touch with my path (and most importantly – my Inner Wisdom’s voice). I will courageously continue to weave my quilt and find great fulfillment in wrapping it around others who need to come in from the cold. Thank you Tad for helping me find my ‘lost’ thread.

  • When I began, I thought my niche would be parents with autistic children looking for recovery strategies, because of parents at an autism support group meeting (these are meetings for parents, not autistics, as I painfully discovered) grilling me about my own recovery, which was how I got into giving talks and workshops in the first place…
    But when the word started to get out in my community and beyond that I could come answer questions, I realized that I was also talking with:
    – educators looking for safer, calmer, and more tolerant classrooms (~ 30%)
    – health and therapeutic professionals looking for answers that made sense of their results in their treatment rooms, both desirable and undesirable (~ 20%), and
    – other adults in the autistic spectrum who already knew they could tinker with their lifestyles to get better quality of life, but had specific concerns they wanted to act on, and didn’t know what to do (~ 10%)

    It still takes some wrapping my head around, because while they all need the same basic information, they start with different questions. I’m also finding that the high-trust necessary for people to work with me is trickier to develop online.