The Power of Sticking Around Long Enough

patience1-1It’s happened a number of times to me now.

I meet someone or some across a business which provides a product or service that I see as needed and that I might want to recommend.

And then they go out of business. Or they stop doing that thing.

And it’s often before I’ve really had the chance to get to know them or had much occasion to spread the word about them. It’s frustrating because I love knowing who to send people to if I can’t help them.

I’d be speaking with someone and say, “Oh yeah. John does that kind of work. He’s great.”

And then someone would overhear me and say, “Oh. John stopped doing that a few months ago. Now he’s onto this other thing.”

Niche switching is a natural thing to do. It happens all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s often exactly what you need to do.

But it takes a while for a reputation to be made. It just takes time and most people quick or change direction before they get there. They’re digging a well and, a foot before they hit water, discouraged, they stop digging there and start digging somewhere else and so they never reach the life replenishing stream under the ground.

In business, those waters are the natural flow of word of mouth that sends you business without you even lifting a finger. It’s the power of becoming a hub, becoming a trusted advisor, expert or ‘go to person’ in any particular arena. That does the marketing for you. If you stick around long enough, hustle while you do it and connect with other hubs in a good way, without three years, everyone knows who you are and what you’re about.

If you work on the issue of trauma for three years in a community and do your best to get the word out there, keep at it.

If you do a unique kind of yoga, have a niched permaculture business, have a business based on a particular target market, or based on a particular thing you’re offering, if you have anything even close to resembling a niche, you do a great job and you stick around long enough in business, you will develop a reputation as someone to go to for particular issues or for particular things. Just by having stuck it out long enough you will have a name in town for doing things. Most people give up on this too soon.

But it takes time.

Most entrepreneurs don’t stick around long enough to really get known for anything.

Most entrepreneurs do not persist and play the long game.

What if I Can’t Guarantee a Result?

GuaranteeThis is a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for years.

Fairly often, in workshops, the question (and it’s a very good one) comes up: “What if I can’t guarantee a result?”

That question usually emerges from the shiny palace of conversations about creating guarantees, and better than risk free guarantees, doing clever and bold risk reversals etc. But, of course, not all kinds of work are suited for these kinds of marketing manoeuvres.

Recently, in the Meantime Program I’m leading, someone shared the following comment which contains this same admirable problem.

“It’s difficult/impossible to predict an outcome from Reiki treatments. There are 2 reasons for this: 1. If I did identify a specific condition that Reiki could help people with I probably couldn’t advertise the fact due to the Advertising Standards Agency not accepting that Reiki is effective for any medical condition (without the ‘robust’ research to back it up they say it’s not acceptable). 2. Probably the stronger reason is that what happens as a result of Reiki treatment is not predicable because it’s not under my control: what the Reiki energy does for each individual depends on their sub-conscious need on that particular day. I cannot, in all integrity, promise any specific result, because I don’t know what it will be. I know that I can offer a compassionate, non-judgemental healing space where change is possible, but nothing can be guaranteed.  There’s a more predictable outcome for people I teach Reiki to: that they will have healing in their own hands. So should I focus on this instead? However that doesn’t really work in terms of the funnel because most people need to receive treatment first.”
So, you can see the sticky wicket here.
 
Let’s retrace our steps a bit.
 
Your business is like a boat that can take people from Island A (where they’re suffering from some problem) to Island B (where they have some result they are craving). These are the basics I delve into in the Marketing for Hippies 101 program.
 
That’s the essence of a business, that journey.
 
Stated another way: without the journey, there’s not much of a business. There’s just a boat.
 
Stated another way: every business exists to solve a problem. If there’s no problem to be solved, there’s no business.
 

Stated yet another way: if there’s no result being offered, then it begs the question if there is a problem or if what one is offering is, in fact, a solution in search of one.So, in this case, she can’t advertise to treat a specific condition because a) it’s illegal and b) it’s unpredictable.

What to do?
 
Consider this, as it is always vital to do, from the side of the customer and imagine how it might feel to them for someone to say, “Pay me money. Then you’ll lie down. I’ll do some things on you. You may or may not notice anything. It can be very subtle. But, if, in the next few weeks, something good happens, then I’ll take credit for that. If nothing happens or something bad, I’ll say it’s either so subtle and powerful you can’t notice it or that your fear is getting in the way.”
 
Consider how that might sound less than accountable or desirable to most people.
 
So, what does that tell us? First of all, that her ideal client is not going to be most people. That her ideal clients are going to need to be people who are already open to, at worst, and irresistibly drawn to, at best, energy work – in particular, Reiki. These are people who will understand the idea that energy work is unpredictable and not be bothered by it.
 
That’s distinction number one.
 
Tied to that, fundamentally, her target market is going to need to be people who want to get on her boat (even just to sail around). They will need to be people who want a reiki session and be happy to pay for it. They need to be people who wouldn’t need or even want any kind of guarantee. People who want to enjoy a “a compassionate, non-judgemental healing space.” And she will absolutely get clients based on this alone. There will be people who want those things. There will be people who meet her and think she’s so lovely and want to hire her. She will meet people who have been dying to try out reiki and say ‘yes’ to her. That will all happen.
 
The only question is, will it be enough to sustain her. If it is, then I would encourage her to just enjoy that.
 
But if not, it’s likely got something to do with what we’re left with in her scenario. We’re left with someone saying, “My boat is beautiful. I can’t promise to take you anywhere, but it’s cozy inside. And everyone is welcome.”
 
Which isn’t bad (truly). But it’s not great (double truly).
 
That offer is the offer of a “generic healer.” Of which there are likely hundreds, if not thousands, within 50 miles of where she lives. And more and more every year.
 
Of course, the immediate response is often going to be something like, “But this can heal anyone! That’s the best part of this modality! It’s for everyone!”
 
It’s for everyone? Maybe so. But you could make the same case for yoga and I could give you a lot of examples of different niches people have found in that world. Or permaculture. Or Traditional Chinese Medicine.
 
The ‘it’s for everyone!’ approach will work if you want to do reiki as a hobby for friends, but you are unlikely to build much of a business out of it. To continue the boat analogy, it would be like someone going down to the harbour and seeing thousands of identical boats. How are they supposed to choose? I’ll tell you how . . . price. They will go for the cheapest one.
 
In terms of the Four Stages of Business Growth, this is classic stage one.
 
What that means is that, as it stands, her marketing plan needs to be geared towards finding people who want “a compassionate, non-judgemental healing space.”
 
Huh.
 
And where would you find those people? Is it possible that this is actually code for every human on the planet? And why would they want it from her vs. someone else? And, if they want that but haven’t tried reiki yet, how do you get them to try?
 
It could also be that her target market, a bit more narrowly, could be those who just want a straight up reiki session. But, again, many of the same questions arise. Where do you find them? What makes her different than the thousands of others who do reiki?
 
You see the marketing questions that immediately arise.
 
So, what’s clear is that, to make the marketing planning easier, a bit more focus and definition in her niche could be useful.
 
There are, fundamentally, two different approaches to this. The Artistic approach and the Entrepreneurial approach. I got into these in much more depth in my book The Niching Nest.
 

The Artistic Approach: I would encourage her to clarify what it is she most wants to give and how. I’d encourage her to look in the marketplace and notice what she sees is missing that she’d like to offer. I’d want her to clarify her point of view, find her voice, bring her personality more to the forefront, tell her story and speak about why this work matters to her so much. And I’d want to know all about what kind of lifestyle she might want. I’d be so curious about which parts of her work she loves the most and which parts she wouldn’t mind losing. I’d want to know which conversations come up between herself and clients that she’d love to explore more. I’d want to see her try to sum up her platform in a page. And then to weave that together into the most clear and beautifully offering she can manage. It would end up looking something like these. Then, the basic pitch is, “Here’s the art I make. If you like it, great. If not, I bless and release you.”

And, once she was done that, I’d invite her to consider who might be most interested in that.
 
Thomas Leonard, the grandfather of the modern life coaching movement operated in this way. And he was a business coach. People would ask him what results he would guarantee and he’d tell them he didn’t guarantee anything but that he was pretty sure they’d be happy with the results. They’d ask him why on earth they should hire him at his high rates then. He’d tell them, “You probably shouldn’t.” And often they’d hire him anyway. He refused to get caught in the trap of promising something that was out of his control.
 
But, and this is an enormously important part of it, he had the skills and competence to back that swagger up. He was incredibly good.
 
The Entrepreneurial Approach: I would encourage her to hone in on one particular target market (i.e. a particular group of people struggling with a particular problem). She might ask herself, “who needs a compassionate, non-judgmental healing space who I most want to help?” and then focus her marketing efforts on them. Then, the basic pitch is, “I’ve created this thing to help you solve your problem and here’s why it’s so good.” It would end up looking something like these.

And, once she was done that, I’d invite her to create the most wonderful and creative offer she could.But, for this to become a solid business, one of those needs to move.

Until one has a solid niche, it’s difficult for much to happen. I can promise that, as her niche gets clear, many of these questions will answer themselves.
 
You can find a lot of free help on your niche at NichingSpiral.com
 
Seven Things to Look at When You’re Struggling With “But I Can’t Guarantee my Offers!”
 
When people say, “But I can’t guarantee anything.” It’s often code for:
  • competency: real talk. This is the big one. It’s very easy to hide incompetence underneath a blanket of jargon and bullshit and claims that the process is unknowable. Facilitators, consultants and healers do it all the time. But, as shaman Martin Prechtel said, and I’m paraphrasing, “If people don’t get better, don’t call yourself a shaman.” Not that it’s controllable but, if there’s never any measurable or noticeabable result, then who are you kidding? The truth is that if you help people get better, if you help them produce a measurable, noticeable, and meaningful result in their life that they’ve been craving but could not produce on their own, you won’t need to worry much about marketing or worrying about not being able to guarantee your offers because the word of mouth will be so strong. If people come to you with back pain and leave without it, if they come to you suspecting an emotional cause to their physical ailment and you help them solve it, if they come to you with heartbreak and you help them find some meaning or peace in it, if they come to you struggling with their finances and you help them find clarity . . . they will tell everyone they know about you and, because the recommendation is coming from a friend, asking for guarantees are likely to be the last thing in their mind.
  • niche: as you can see above, the lack of a niche means there’s no particular journey being offered. This makes it impossible to guarantee anything. Because there’s no “thing” to guarantee. After reading a draft of this post, the Meantime participant who had emailed me about the issue with reiki wrote me the following:

Wow thanks for writing the blog about my question Tad. Yes I understand your points. I think my issues are 1) not wanting to opt for a niche in the past, still lingering a bit – because yes Reiki can help anyone with anything if they are up for it 2) Not being clear enough about the niche I want to serve – and perhaps not daring to 3) Not having clear packages/free stuff/funnel although this started to evolve at the beginning of this year and I think more clarity on this will help. Perhaps a shift from seeing what I offer as just Reiki and more as a wider ‘package’ – something about self care and self honoring perhaps. Healing seems too vague as an offering, so I know I have to try to get down to who I really love to help.”

  • your map: If you’re taking people on a journey from Island A to Island B, they may not need a guarantee if they trust your map and the route you have plotted out. Sometimes them just knowing you’ve got a clear plan, process, perspective, approach, philosophy or set of principles on which you base your work is enough to eliminate any need for a solid guarantee. Not sure how to do that? Here are Five Steps to Identify Your Point of View.
  • how safe your clients are feeling: fundamentally what’s being hinted at here is the sense that people perceive some risk in spending their time and money with her. And so, to address it, we offer guarantees. What’s important not to lose sight of is the fact that the guarantees are just a tactics to address the underlying issue of fear. They’re a tactic to help people feel more confident in their investment. And they’re one of many tactics. Other ways to reduce risk include testimonials, online video, writing blogs, certifications, public speaking and leading workshops etc. Any kind of free sample you can create will be a huge help. Creating compelling packages is another way to reduce risk. All of these tactics will do ten times more for you with less effort if you have a clear sense of your niche.
  • are the results you’re offering big and vague?: if you’re making vague they will come across as untrustworthy. If you claim to be able to help everyone with everything, you will absolutely come across as a charlatan. It’s such an unbelievable claim. Sometimes the result we’re offering is too big. And sometimes while we’re not guaranteeing any particular big result, we’re implying it with phrases like, “this can help anyone with anything.” And when people feel uncertain they’re going to want more reassurances from you (such as guarantees). I recall being at a networking meeting in Calgary where everyone introduced themselves. One lady shared her work which was so incredibly vague, new agey and ungrounded and, when she was done there was silence and everyone sat there in an uncomfortable trance of trying to understand what she’d said and also not wanting to make eye contact with her at all. Then my friend Adrian Buckley shared about his incredible permaculture work where they’d do permablitzes and install an entire permacultured landscape in a day and the room broke out into applause. People knew something real when they heard it.
  • what can be guaranteed: you can’t guarantee everything, but there are often parts of it that you can. The whole conversation around guarantees is bigger than this blog post can handle but, in this context she might be able to guarantee that she’ll do everything in her power to make the space as compassion, non-judgmental and healing as possible. She could even get specific about how she does that. She could set agreements between herself and her client that would have them feel safe. She could guarantee her part of the process (e.g. “I commit to spending 30 minute in meditation at the start of each day and showing up to sessions well rested. I commit to continuing to grow in healing my own life. I commit to continuing education”).
  • what your clients can guarantee: sometimes we can’t guarantee things because our clients actions are out of our control. You can make it clear what you need from them for the results to happen as promised and, if they’re unwilling or unable to do that, that you are free from any promises you made. That could look like committing to some basic health and stress relieving tactics everyday. It could look like showing up to sessions on time. Being willing to do some reading.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this below in the comments.

 

The Four Stages of Business Growth

wood-outdoor-stairs-landscaping-steps-1Business is like a staircase which it’s best not to skip any steps.

One of the things that can put us squarely and repeatedly into what I call The Meantime is not understanding what stage of business we are at (or even that there are different stages of business). A classic blunder is for people to try and skip a stage. They are working a job and quit it to start their business hoping to land right in Stage Three when they’ve barely begun Stage One. And, the reality is that it takes a year and a half (at the very fastest) to three years to develop a solid business – and that’s with consistent focus. All due credit to my dear friend and colleague Mark Silver for introducing me to this idea. 

So, let’s look at the stage of business growth and see if we can’t find where you are.

Stage Four: Independence – At this level, you could go on vacation for six months and your business would still be making money for you. You likely have many people working for you and airtight systems in place.

Stage Three: Momentum – At this stage, you likely have a full time employee or two and your business is generating enough revenue that everyone is getting paid a fair amount. You are thriving. Your have a solid niche and business model. In momentum, there’s a firming up of your business just as plants get that woody growth that prepares them to bear fruit later.

Stage Two: Concentration – At this stage, you might be beginning to get some part time help but you’re only barely paying the bills in your business. You’re squeezing by and the money is up and down. You focus on your marketing and money comes in but then you focus on delivering your products and services and the business dries up. Back and forth. Feast and famine happens a lot here. But, at this point, you’ve figured out your niche and what your business is about. You’re getting the business model down and developing the systems you need. This phase is like the phase of rapid growth of a plant. There’s a lot of hard work and a lot of learning here.

Stage One: Creation – In stage one, you’re doing a lot of experimenting still. You don’t have a clearly defined niche yet. You likely have no help at at all with your business and you are absolutely not able to sustain yourself financially – you can’t make a living at this level. In creation, things are new. You’ve had the idea to start a business and are full of excitement. The seed germinates and begins to sprout. At this stage the plant is far too soft and flimsy to bear much weight. It’s very flexible but not that sturdy.

Which stage are you at?

The enormous payoff of knowing this is the dissolution of stress when you realize that you are precisely where you’re supposed to be (e.g. If you’re in stage one and confused why you’re not making a living, well… be confused no more! You aren’t supposed to be! You’re supposed to be sorting out your niche). 

 

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 __________.”

Guest Post: How a Failed Trip to Iceland Created One of the Coolest Things in the World

HugeSmile-smThis is a different kind of blog post, written by a colleague of mine, Seth Braun, from Fairfield, Iowa.

I like it because it speaks to the unintended consequences of trying an experiment.

I’m currently in the middle of running my Niching for Hippies program. The core of that program is the idea of ‘niche projects‘. Before committing yourself to a niche and getting married to it – go on a date first. Before you plant a garden, try a potted tomato plant. Start small.

My colleague Alex Baisley was the first one who really opened my eyes to the power and importance of experiments in life. He pointed out how even beginning the process of following your big dreams wasn’t a luxury. It was a doorway. That by even starting the process you discover new things. 

I think about myself. I wanted to learn Scottish Gaelic. So I took five minutes to look for audio courses I could buy. I found one (which ended up being useless) but, in the process of that, I also came across the Celtic Studies program at St. FX University in Nova Scotia. Three years later, I was a student there. The next year I was a student at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. Four years later, I co-starred in Canada’s second ever Gaelic language film. Two years later, I hosted the first ever Cape Breton Jam – a gathering for young leaders in the Cape Breton Gaelic community. 

All from just taking five minutes to try to find some Gaelic learning programs. 

If you’ve got an idea, just start exploring it. Don’t wait to be 100% ready. Just begin.

In Edmonton, we’re in the middle of our municipal election. And I can see how, over the course of the campaign, candidates are getting better. You’re never ready for a campaign. The campaign makes you ready. 

Much of the time, the ideas you start with won’t be the ones you end with. But maybe the point of our inspirations isn’t about achieving them but about inspiring us to move to find something else that we’re unable to imagine when we begin. 

In fact, for the linguistically curious, the verb ‘commit’, in Latin, means, ‘to begin’. All too often, people let the perfect be the good. I see it in niching all the time – needing to have everything figured out before even beginning to move on things. Just move. Try things. Start small. They probably won’t work out (the way you think they will). But try anyway.

There’s a power in just starting things and seeing where they take us.

And now, a beautiful story about the importance of this . . . 

by Seth Braun

A long dim hallway from a store front suggesting breakfast. 

The passage opens to the clink of spoons and the clank of mugs. He can barley see; the smell of strong coffee, fresh pastries – lights fade – chatting diners – speaking Icelandic – in total darkness?

Is this some strange dream?

The Icelandic Diner in the Dark wasn’t some strange dream; But a dream come true and discovery of destiny. But often our dreams require that we take the hero’s journey. That great mythic plunge into the adventure, mystery and the great unknown. Like Frodo stepping out of BagEnd, or Luke Skywalker naively stepping forward to seek Obi Wan. These great journeys mould and shape our psyche. But they are filled with terrible light and darkness. Often, the fear of the unknown we carry with us prevents us from taking the journey. 

 You don’t have to be afraid to follow your dreams into the unknown… even into darkness, if you bring these with you: Vision, Action, Confidence, Courage. 

Let me weave a tale for you…

It started when my friend Brian Rochileau, or Rosh, came to me as a client. 

“Seth – I have a crazy dream –  house concerts – intimate music venues – in Iceland. I’ve already done them in the states, in Norway and Ireland… I think this is a first… I’m going to book the tour – produce the album and go buy the ticket.” It was more than a dream. Rosh had a vision! A vision he could see. A vision he could write. A vision he could speak. – “… just one thing, I need$10,000!”

I said, “Cool!, let’s do it.”  

Spreadsheets. Pitches. Timelines. Strategies. Mindset….we laid the foundation and he hit the ground running… in ACTION… Rosh secured investment, got online and created a tour out of nothing, then recorded the album. 

He was on his way to Iceland with consistent, persistent Action in his back pocket to keep the momentum going. 

…But not without haters. You know what I am talking about… those voices from people around you, in your head… 

You can’t do it…

You’ve never done it before…

Your too flaky… 

You never follow through…

You are going to lose money…

The thoughts that dim the light of your enthusiasm. 

Fortunately, Rosh brought confidence. CONFIDENCE – from the latin words  con and  fidelus – with and faithful – he was faithful to his dream. He bolstered his faith by speaking words, speaking truth, and words and the truth became his experience… Confidence… I can do this. Confidence… I am learning what I need to learn… Confidence… I believe in myself. I believe in my dreams… I can… I am… I believe.

Hitchhiking the rugged, volcanic landscape, Rosh’s confidence came through in two great shows. 

Waiting for a ride to show number three, the northern solstice sun shone bright and long. Everything about the first four days was perfect… (except that fermented fish they offered him at the traditional festival, another story). 

An old Toyota scooped him up at the agreed upon time and rolled to the next venue. A gothic church. Rosh doesn’t speak Icelandic. His chauffer speaks no English. Arriving at the venue, the driver unlocks the heavy doors, hops in the Range Rover and speeds off. 

30 minutes before show time. Rosh nervously sets up. 

15 minutes before. No host. 

10 minutes. 5 minutes. No audience. 

1 minute. No one. 

And it happens.  

The low. 

The fall. 

The ouch. 

All those voices came rushing into Rosh’s brain, hovering there, vultures blotting out the light of the sun, flapping their wings, skwawking, “we told you, you can’t do it, it’s not going to work, you are going to lose money, you are going to fail, you don’t have what it takes…”

It happens to all of us. Dissapointment. Frustration. We make mistakes. Our hearts break. 

But this time, Rosh packed courage. He took it out of his bag with a big sheet of paper, captured the vultures, put them on paper and poured his heart out. 

I am afraid. 

I am angry. 

I want this to work.

 How can create magical experiences?

 How can I have sold out crowds? 

How can I connect more deeply, Heart to Heart?

Courage! – from the old French, cour, to take heart. He breathed deep and felt the emotions and poured them into a question… HOW? And then poured the energy into a show, tears streaming down his face, songs echoing into the cavernous sanctuary. His only audience was the waxing moon, passing through the stained glass windows. 

He packed his guitar and bags, fell asleep on a pew, spent and hungry, saints watching over his slumber. 

A storm passed over that night. A new day dawned… the pre-collapse economy of Iceland was flowing and record sales were strong and the next weeks were all hot springs, cozy living rooms with fireplaces, glasses of wine with the happiest and friendliest people on earth. 

Rosh rolled into Reykjavík , the Icelandic capital on a sweet Sunday morning, hungry for a hearty breakfast – no fermented fish. Little did he know that he was stumbling into his destiny. 

He made that stroll into the darkening corridor, with the smell of cinnamon rolls and French roast. Walked into that pitch-black café and bumped into a chair. Then he was pulled, almost tripping to his right. 

Finding a seat… “What is this place…Who is pulling me?”

The Blind Waiter responded; “It’s a blind café, what can I start you off with…”

In those moments… on the journey of living his dreams, in Iceland, senses sharpened, immersed in the flavor and sounds, eating a rich breakfast in a Blind Cafe, a light goes in the darkness –  A NEW VISION – the answer to the question… How can I connect, heart – to – heart. 

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. 

You have something that only you can give. 

No one else has it. If you don’t share it with us, we’ll never get it!

Because Rosh took Vision, Action, Confidence and Courage on the volcanic journey into the darkness of the unknown, the World has the beauty of the Blind Café, music and dining in the dark, on tour in, Aspen , Austin, Boulder, Burlington VT, Cincinnati, Denver, Portland, Seattle… touching thousands of people, donating thousands more to service groups for the blind. 

“The Blind Cafe seeks to support and create a deeper understanding of community, that inspires people to think differently and examine at how they relate with themselves and others. We help people develop a deeper sense of appreciation and compassion for people unlike themselves. We teach people how to listen to live music and to themselves again…. without the distraction of cell phones, social etiquette and visual conditioning. We partner with blindness organizations to provide community awareness and entertainment for the community. We provide a unique opportunity for the blind and sighted parts of our community to come together in discussion.” 

Rosh took an outrageous idea and brought it to the world in over 25 live events across the U.S. 

What outrageous dream have your stumbled into? 

What vision has alighted upon your mind?

Is there a journey stirring your heart?

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, even into darkness of discouragement and defeat…but take these with you:

1. Confidence, – I am, I can I believe. 

2. Courage – to face the fear and turn it into fuel, 

3. Vision – see it, write it, speak it and

4.  Consistent, Persistent ACTION

And if you find yourself in a totally dark place, that may be just the time that the lights go on for your destiny.  

Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams!

 

WorkandFamily-Balance-sm-300x200About the Author: Seth Braun provides speaking, coaching, training and consulting services in support of individuals who want to develop their full personal and professional potential. He is also a devoted father and husband, an avid gardener, a musician, and a chocoholic. http://sethbraun.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niching for Hippies – Interview with Sarah Juliusson (24 min)

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 9.02.02 PMSarah Juliusson runs My Birth Business where she helps midwives and doulas with their business and marketing.

I was really excited to chat with her about this whole business of figuring out your niche in the lead up to my Niching for Hippies program.

Below is the audio for the interview and, below that, is the summary of what she had to say.

 

 

 

What do you think is missing in the conversation about niching? What do you see that you think others are not seeing that could help people find their niche?

Niching is a tricky area to explore as on the surface it can seem quite simple. I consistently see examples of niching gone wrong, usually by creating a surface niche, choosing a single characteristic that defines your niche and your care. Initially this may seem like a niche – for example “I am a birth doula serving pregnant women in Seattle.” So here our niche to the beginners eye can seem quite specific: pregnant women in Seattle seeking birth doula care. In fact, this is a broad stroke that doesn’t come close to defining her true niche – using single characteristics such as geography and pregnancy may seem to paint a clear niche, but in fact these are only foundational characteristics for a true niche. Without further definition, this niche will not serve her practice.

When I actually talk with this imaginary doula, however, I may learn that she has a particular interest in supporting families planning a home birth with midwives. As well, her ideal clients will be interested in taking advantage of her complementary skill of aromatherapy. She herself is in her 40s, and has a special draw to supporting women over 35 who are pregnant for the first time. She finds that clients of this nature have a real hunger for quality information and research about birth and loves helping them get connected through her large library of resources. I could go on, but you get the picture, yes? It is easy to paint the niche with characteristics that may seem specific but in fact are only broad strokes that just barely begin to capture her niche and unique selling proposition.

What’s most important in niching? What’s a distraction?

IMPORTANT: Years ago I built a website for one of my childbirth education businesses. As I worked on the site vibe, the phrase that kept coming back to me was that I wanted the site to feel like a really comfortable couch. I wanted my ideal clients to find the site and instantly feel so at home that they would want to have a seat, drink some tea, and take their time learning more. When i think about niching, that comfy couch is really what we’re going for. If I have infused my marketing vibe, language & imagery with key elements that speak to my niche, then when they arrive on my site they will instantly feel at home. Without that virtual couch provided by a clear niche, those ideal clients will arrive at your site or pick up your card and have no particular reason to want to stick around and learn some more.

DISTRACTION: When defining their niche i see many clients hit almost a wall of fear – concerned that by defining a niche for their practice they will be shutting out potential clients. When your income is dependent on each and every client that hires you it is easy to get caught up in saying yes even when it isn’t a great fit. By tailoring online and print marketing materials to a niche, many holistic professionals worry that they are closing off too many options and it keeps them from defining their niche in an effective way. Instead, I find that a well developed niche opens doors.

Can you list three of your favourite examples of successful, niche businesses?

Birth Swell – http://birthswell.com/ – Jeanette & hilary have brought their unique skills & perspective in social media and communications and identified a major gap in the birth industry. Their niche market is a blend of practicing birth professionals and birth advocates who want to learn the theory and the practical how to’s for using new media and social media tools to build a business, change policy, and spread their birth (and breastfeeding and maternal/infant health) genius.

The Nesting Place – http://thenestingplace.ca – While Amanda Spakowski and the Nesting Place team of doulas & childbirth educators are providing similar core services as many other birth professionals in their region, the Nesting Place website does a great job of conveying their focus on parents who are seeking a guide, someone to help them feel less fear, and more confidence and connection, while supporting their birth choices without judgment. Their unique selling proposition stands out within the birth community, representing a model of care that goes far above and beyond standard prenatal class & doula care offerings in the area.

I have a new client right now who is going through an interesting discernment process regarding her niche. While she currently offers group prenatal classes at two great hub locations, she is increasingly feeling that the population at these locations is not a good match for her practice. As well, she is feeling a strong pull to focus her practice on the needs of families who are seeking a private prenatal class, wanting to cultivate a relationship-based practice that allows for more in-depth support than a group class would offer. It’s exciting watching her go through this transformation. It’s a great example of how when we are aligned with our niche, we enhance our own personal journey as a practitioner.

How do people know if they have a good niche? What’s the most important criteria to know if you have a solid niche?

It is very important to me that clients have a solid niche defined for themselves as a foundation before doing any website creation (or revision) or creating marketing materials.

Characteristics I look for include:

How specific is it? Could we create a persona based on this niche description? Personality, relationship, home decor, education level, income, etc… I like clients to create a pinterest board representing their ideal client to get a better sense of who she is.

Is the niche an excellent match for the nature of your care – both the services provided & your practice style and philosophy. Are you excited about working with her? Are you clear on what you have to offer her and why it is a great fit for her needs?

Understanding the relationship between the niche and the community – where is she likely to hang out? What other complementary services is she likely to be using?

Perhaps most importantly, you should feel excited about serving your niche!

What’s the simplest, most direct and most effective approach to finding your niche?

First you have to Believe in your Niche, and know that your Niche wants to find You.

I think the absolute foundation of finding your niche is believing that clients want to find you. Think about the massage therapists you’ve seen in your life – most of us have had a handful of mediocre massages before we find the therapist whose hands & spirit match what our body is craving. We walk in the door each time hoping that this will turn into a long term massage therapy relationship. Years ago my husband did an advanced business mentorship program and one of the lessons learned as he developed interview skills was that the person conducting the interview actually Wants you to be good. People are out there who need and want your help. Not just the service you provide, or the training & skills that you have cultivated, but the whole package of what you offer because of who you are.

The 2nd step is to Understand your Niche.

For me, this means creating an in depth portrayal of your ideal client. Making her so real that that you could meet her at a party and recognize her instantly. Let yourself understand her needs, desires, cravings, what she is seeking and what she will resonate with.

The final step is to Serve your Niche.

This means crafting our practice to truly match our niche. It’s not just about tailoring marketing materials to your niche. It’s also about taking a close look at your services, packages, and pricing to align with your niche. From a marketing perspective we are cultivating as many clues as possible to help our ideal clients find their way to the services they need. And finally, it means getting clear on what it means to serve your Niche – this means taking care as you grow your business to be sure you are adding services & products aligned with your niche, and sometimes saying no to clients who simply aren’t a good fit.

Niching for Hippies – Interview with Michael Margolis

margolisMichael Margolis is my marketing bro. We’ve never met in person but from moment one of connecting with each other we were instant pals. Michael understands the power of story in marketing better than most people I know. And, in the lead up to my Niching for Hippies program, it occurred to me that Michael might have some insights into how story and niche marketing intersect. 

And boy did he ever. 

You can watch the video of the conversation below and read the summary of his thoughts below that.

 

 

What do you think is missing in the conversation about niching? What do you see that you think others are not seeing that could help people find their niche?

Stop trying to be anything but yourself. Storytelling is not about selling shit, its about giving a shit. Same goes with niching. You can’t dominate or own your marketplace but you can own your story. Be the story of who you were born to be. That’s natural authority.

What’s most important in niching? What’s a distraction?

“Believe in yourself, and stop trying to convince other.” – De La Vega

Trying to be something or somebody you’re not.

Can you list three of your favourite examples of successful, niche businesses?

You
The Lhassi-man at Marin Farmers Market

How do people know if they have a good niche? What’s the most important criteria to know if you have a solid niche?

when they start having fun, their work becomes a labor of love, and they are saying NO more often and more easily.

You feel seen, heard, and recognized. You’re able to say NO on a regularly basis to those prospects and inquiries that don’t fit your niche/focus

What’s the simplest, most direct and most effective approach to finding your niche?

Find the narrative throughline/arc of your life that explains why you do what you (what’s the riddle you’re trying to solve)

For more info or to sign up for the Niching for Hippies program, just go here: http://nichingforhippies.com/ 

Interview: Life Coaching is Not a Business with Rebecca and Ellen

Screen-shot-2013-07-04-at-9.14.13-AMMy colleague and dear friend Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life (and her colleague Ellen Ercolini) have come out with a new program for Life Coaches that I wanted to share with you. Rebecca has been featured on my blog a number of times.

They have a really interesting take on helping coaches get more clients that I’ve never heard before (e.g. “We believe that “coaching” in and of itself isn’t a business.” and the idea of picking your expertise before choosing your niche).

If you’re a life coach (or holistic practitioner) I invite you to give this a read. 

Why did you choose Coaches to work with? What types of challenges do Coaches tend to have?

Ellen: We picked coaches because we both come from coaching backgrounds and we’ve watched our peers struggle, which totally sucks.  Coaches have a very strong drive to help the world – they really, really care about it.  They really want to make people’s lives  happier and positively impact the world.  Who doesn’t want to help those folks accomplish their dreams faster? It’s such a gratifying circle of positive impact.

What they don’t have, by and large, is strong marketing and entrepreneurial skills.   SO many coaches graduate coaching school (ourselves included!) thinking “I can change the world! I can do anything!” And, without the biz skills to back that up, it’s not true. Which leads to really talented people getting depressed and sad about their perceived lack of coaching skills, when in reality it’s the marketing and business skills  they are missing.  

We figured it out pretty early on in our business development, so now we’re on a mission to short circuit that learning curve for other coaches.

Becca: Ditto what Ellen said. And I’d add that coaches tend to be really timid with their marketing. They often have this view that doing good shouldn’t make them a lot of money. That they don’t need money. Which is totally ridiculous. There’s nothing noble about being broke. And there’s nothing “bad” about wanting to make not just a good living, but a damn good living. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does buy some freedom to travel, volunteer, give back, and provide for your family. Those things feel pretty noble to me! 

What’s the system you offer to help coaches solve those problems?

Becca: We believe that “coaching” in and of itself isn’t a business. Coaching is a skill that you use in your business to help bring your clients some kind of result. So in a sense, we’re helping coaches actually figure out what their business is – where their expertise lies.

Once they get clear on their expertise (which includes their niche), we teach them to talk about coaching in a way that gets them clients. Coaches have the habit of using really jargon-y words, so we teach them how to talk about what they so that people perk up and listen (and then ask for their card!). We like to make it EASY for coaches to get referrals, so we teach them how to get known as an expert in their field. Then we  teach them how to use their expertise to create packages that their clients are begging for. No more having to go hunt down your clients. And this all may sound intimidating, but it’s actually really simple, and anyone can do it.

Ellen: YES!  We both use this method in our businesses and have seen huge growth.  When you start speaking clearly about the problems you solve in a way that your clients resonate with, people actually start remembering what you do.  

What’s the number one mistake you see coaches make when they are first starting businesses?

Ellen: They try to help everyone.  Here’s the deal – when people hear ‘I  work with everyone!’ it gets interpreted as ‘no one’.  I see new coaches all the time saying they help people live a ‘more fulfilled life’ – when I ask who specifically they work with they say ‘oh everyone!’ – when I ask how many clients they have it gets really quiet.  

Another huge roadblock for new coaches like Becca mentioned, is talking with too much coaching jargon.  Coaches understand what ‘shifting perspectives to align with values’ means, but it’s because we’ve all gone through classes!  New coaches need to be vigilant about explaining what they do in language that their ideal clients use.  So I guess that’s two mistakes, but they go hand in hand.

Becca: Trying to work with everyone. Gahhh, it drives me nuts! Not only does it not help with their marketing, but I can guarantee that they also don’t WANT to work with everyone. We’re allowed to be selfish in our businesses for the sake of our clients. What I mean is that by only working with clients who totally light you up, you’ll do WAY better coaching, you clients will get more out of it, and work will always feel good for you.

New coaches also tend to have these open ended packages (typically 2-4 sessions a month, for minimum 3 months, on an ongoing, seemingly never-ending basis. No one wants to buy a never-ending service! I don’t know who started with that model, but those don’t sell. New coaches are often reluctant to break away from the way it’s typically done, but we show them a way to structure their packages that makes WAY more sense, and that gets them more clients.

What’s your view on coaches choosing a niche? How should they go about that?

Becca: We believe in expertise first, niche second. Most people go about it backwards – they want to come up with a niche first, before they are even really clear on what they want to do.

So for example, instead of saying “I help single moms”, they might say “I’m an expert organizer and I help people with really busy lives to fit all the millions of things they need to do into their days without getting totally overwhelmed”. That leaves them lots of room to work with different kinds of people (if they don’t want to choose just one niche), but also positions them as the expert in something, so they get known faster for what they do. So YES – choose a niche, but make sure it’s grounded in your expertise.

Ellen: Exactly! Because as we know, businesses evolve.  Developing your business around your expertise makes it simple to apply it to different groups (niches) – and if you want to transition niches, it’s a simple pivot, not an re-brand.  It’s also much more of a natural extension of who the business owner is as a whole person, so it makes the marketing and sales aspect a lot smoother.  

How will this help Coaches in terms of Marketing?

Ellen: Using this system coaches become super clear about where and how to market themselves, and they’ve got the words to make people hear them.   It enables the coaches to speak clearly about the problems they solve, and articulate the results they offer.  Which is totally what people want!  They want you to swoop in and solve their problems!  Which our coaches do now.  Many of the coaches that have gone through Coaching Business Jumpstart have landed new clients the next day because they finally knew how to talk to potential clients.  How’s that for short-cutting the learning curve?

Becca: Most coaches don’t even know what the term “marketing” really means (I certainly didn’t when I got started!). But marketing is really all grounded in being specific about what you do – so in that sense, everything we teach them will help with their marketing! Especially because we help coaches get confident in what they are doing. Too many coaches don’t see their true value, they tend to leave out all their past experiences and just see themselves as new coaches. But we teach them to integrate ALL parts of who they are into their business, so that they feel totally confident in what they do and how they offer it to people, and confidence is KEY in marketing yourself. If you don’t believe in what you do, how can you expect anyone else to?

Where can people find you ladies and learn more about the Coaching Business Jumpstart?

You can get in on the program and find out more about our individual coaching businesses at www.coachingbusinessjumpstart.com. We currently have a self-study version for sale, and will be running the live event again on September 14.


If you’re a coach struggling to make your business work, Becca + Ellen have your answer with Coaching Business Jumpstart. This program is your ticket to making the business side of coaching feel fun and easy. You will learn exactly where you need to start, lay out a plan for moving forward, and leave with the skills and knowledge to make your dream coaching business a reality. You’re great at what you do. You KNOW you can help people. Now if only you knew who those people were, where to find them, and how to get them to hire you! Coaching Business Jumpstart teaches you how.

a few niching realizations

Had the best call last week in my Niching for Hippies program.
 
A few realizations: 

  • the qualities you most want your clients to have are the qualities you need to be bringing to the table yourself
  • the qualities you most want your clients to have are your responsibility: how can you make it easier and safer for those to show up when they work with you? Can you create programs to help them develop those qualities? Can you partner with someone whose passion it is to help people develop those qualities?
  • the qualities we love the most in our very favourite clients are often the qualities we are already bringing to the table and that our ideal clients love in us
 

the top 40 clearest niches out of 119 – as voted by you!

On January 8th, in the lead up to my six week ‘Niching for Hippies‘ coaching program, I invited my email list to participate in a challenge called – ‘So You Think You Can Niche‘.

As of this moment there were 119 submissions and 1587 comments on the blog thread.

I have spent the last 12 hours going through it and tabulating the results from it. And what you see below are the Top 40 niche submissions as chosen by you. I will be sharing more learnings that came from this contest in the coming weeks, but for now, I invite you to enjoy reading forty niches that the majority of people found extremely clear. They’re all excellent examples of a niche that most people would ‘get’ right away.

On the left hand side you’ll see their average score that people gave them from 1-10.

Note: If you are represented here and would like me to add your website or update what is written please drop me a line and let me know.

   10 Kathy Whitham – I help parents who are at the end of their rope successfully stop the power struggles, connect with their kids and restore peace at home. www.parentingbeyondwords.com
10 Leslie Singer – Is midlife messing up your mojo? I coach women to reclaim their sense of self, declare their life purpose & flourish.  
10 Lisa Mcloughlin “Coaching introverts: optimising your quiet strengths www.greenaldercoaching.co.uk
10 Monique Lallemang I help people with neurological issues to find solutions for making their life smoother and enjoyable. I help people with peripheral neuropathy customize daily rituals, identify healing opportunities and achieve greater happiness  
9.75 Sven the Tantric Barbarian – I help female yoga teachers to experience full body orgasms.  
 9.6 Alison Downey – I re-ignite hope for people suffering from chronic pain or emotional distress, using acupuncture to provide long-awaited relief. http://bit.ly/YhyijK
 9.5 Paula Blundell – I work hands-on for, or alongside, busy eco-minded inner city Calgarian’s to get their home organized, achieve order & make room to breathe. www.roomtobreathecalgary.com
9.47 Jennifer Fedd – I produce and publish audio books for contemporary romance writers. audiolark.com
 9.3 Claudia Neely – I help adults with Asperger’s and/or ADHD build intimate relationships, from learning to date, to finding friends and peer groups, to exploring healthy sexuality.  
9.25 Tanja Gardner – I help coaches, healers & other difference-makers communicate the AWESOMENESS of their services through clear copywriting crystalclaritycopywriting.com
Dawn Trautman – I coach progressive Protestants to discover a calling that aligns with God, their community, and their own sense of joy. www.LutheranLifeCoach.com
9 Elinor Predota – I help LGBT & poly couples to have the wedding & marriage they desire through ceremony creation & relationship coaching.  
Joanne Diepenheim – I free heart-centered entrepreneurs from the technical administration work they don’t have the know-how, time, or inclination for. www.rippleeffectsva.com
Katherine Pike – I help women and men over 40 struggling with food and with diets to lose weight naturally without giving up all the things they love to eat. www.Eat-to-Achieve.com
9 Peter – I help service-based woman entrepreneurs charge what they worth, get 4 more hours of fun per week without being saleasy and convincing to clients.

 

 
8.96 Sian Delaney – I help older people affected by frailty, illness or disability receive the care they need in the home that they love.  www.homehelpplus.co.uk/
8.85 Kim McNeil – I offer private in-home yoga therapy, workshops, and retreats for those living with arthritis whose needs are not met in conventional yoga classes. www.kimmcneilyoga.ca
8.81  Dillena – I help LGBT folks with depression, anxiety and self-esteem issues feel happy and secure with themselves using a caring, drug-free approach. http://on.fb.me/UdwZyW
8.8

Renee Stotz – As the Womb Wellness Coach, I help women who have had an abortion, heal their mental, emotional & physical well-being

www.reneestotz.co.uk

8.75

 

Rebecca Allen – I help broken hearts heal their wounds when relationships end. Shiatsu helps grief evolve naturally so you can laugh, love and be happy again. http://on.fb.me/Wh9OkH
8.5 Joseph Coats – I help connect people to nature by creating edible and usefull landscapes that provide for many of their basic needs (food, H2o, fiber,fuel)   
8.57 Camilla Freeman – I help women and couples maximize fertility with customized dietary, herbal medicine and movement plans www.camillefreeman.com
8.56 Jacquie Robertson – I help bitchy, bloated & burnt-out female professionals have more energy, love their body & feel less stressed. www.jacquierobertson.ca
8.5

Geneviève Côté – I help women struggling with anxiety disorders live anxiety-free with the help of practical herbal medicine and other drug free techniques.

 
8.5

Miki – I help soul-wounded fathers heal while raising boys who come of age with a deep sense of purpose and belonging.

 
8.45 Tamara – I’m a floral designer that works with brides who’ve been dreaming about their wedding since they were little girls. www.purelyflower.com 
8.45 KlaraBowPie – I handmake specially designed blankets to help people with Post Traumatic Stress feel safe www.plumestorytellers.co.uk
8.4 LisaReinhardt – Women love our organic vegan dark chocolate that’s infused with herbs, spices & flower essences to balance body & mind www.weiofchocolate.com
8.4 I sell ethically produced wild life pendants in soapstone targetted at children to remind them of animal rights and environmental issues.  
8.38 Caroline Van Kimmenade – I teach struggling empathic people who feel overwhelmed and fearful how to make their sensitivity a joyful gift so that they work working WITH their sensitivity instead of fighting it www.thehappysensitive.com
8.33 Janina Na – I make artisanal bath and body care luxuries for people with sensitive skin and/or multiple chemical sensitivities.  
8.33 KC Schwarz – I use Thai yoga massage to help older guys ease the effects of aging on a physically demanding lifestyle.  
8.32 Lucy Lambriex – I use photography & text to portray enterprising people who care about authenticity, so they will attract the people and clients that fit. http://lablambriex.nl
8.3 Lori RN(a.k.a.Minky) – I mentor nurses who are fitness enthusiasts, combine their nursing skills and fitness training to improve the health of people ‘at-risk’ for disease.  
8.24 Kat – I teach single moms how to release overwhlem and frustration, be confident parents and be the change they want to see in their children  
8.2  Mark Zlochin – i help “crazy”, creative and ambitious people in becoming more focused, organized and productive, so they can realize their potential most fully.  
8 Sarah – I show sufferers of Fibromyalgia and CFS how to manage symptoms, relieve pain, and re-occupy their lives.