the four steps to choosing a niche

So, we’re four weeks into the Niching for Hippies program and I wanted to share something that’s become clear to me in working with over fifty entrepreneurs around their niches. There are four steps that most people tend to go through and there’s an order and sequence that seems to make the most sense (in general).

Step #1: The Seed

The most important step is for us to do some introspection on our lives and to ask ourselves where we are most qualified to help. This often starts with asking ourselves a very simple question. Our answer to that question will not give us a fully formed niche usually but it almost always gives us the seed of a fully formed niche. You might realize that the seed of your work is that you struggled with food and your weight your whole life but are finally in a good place with it. And when you think about helping people on those issues you feel really excited.

Step #2: The Big Circle

I think of the next step as being about choosing the right pot and the soil to plant your seed in. This is where we start to not just think in broad strokes but we also clarify the boundaries a bit. We think about the qualities we most want in an ideal client, the particular moment in their life they’re at where we’re best suited to enter, the values and worldview they would have etc.  We start to paint a picture of the type of person we’d want any of our clients to be. You can learn more about this here.

Step #3: Little Circles

Now we start to pick very specific groups and target markets to focus on. For example, your big circle might be ‘women struggling with their weight’ but a smaller circle might be ‘new mom’s struggling with their weight’ or ‘corporate women struggling with their weight’ or even ‘retired women who are wanting to lose weight’. This small circle is a very particular group of people dealing with a very particular problem. You can learn more about this here.

Step #4: Niche Projects

In step four, we invite people to pick one of the smaller circles and try something out. Something small. It might be hosting a potluck for those people, running a small workshop, presenting at a local TEDx event, hosting a Meet Up group etc. Something really little that they can use to see if that niche really is a fit for them. Something with minimal risk and commitment but that could earn them a bit of money, get them some exposure and experience in working with that niche. It’s easy to want to turn this molehill into a mountain, to want to take this tiny niche project and want to turn it into a whole new business empire right away. Resist that urge. You can read more about this here.

If you follow these four steps you will find yourself making more progress on finding genuine, profitable and inspiring niches than you may have ever.


Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program

why demographics matter

In 2010, I wrote a blog post all about why demographics aren’t enough to build your niche on.

And I stand behind that.

But what I didn’t realize then was how powerful a doorway into your authentic niche demographics could be.

I’m two thirds through my Niching for Hippies program and I just interviewed Lisa Cherney about her thoughts on niche marketing. Here’s what she had to say.

Lisa:   So I think everybody starts off with some kind of demographic like, “Oh, men or women,” or, “I want to work with people that are age 65 to 70″ because they might have some type of retirement or later-in-life program.

We start off with demographics, but here’s the thing. You pick the demographic or the target based on an assumption, like you have a reason in your mind and then what you do is you take your reason and you translate it into a demographic.

Well, what I want you to do is, I want you to take that reason and put it into your ideal client description. The best example of this, Tad, that I always like to give is anything that has to do with money. Because people always put, you know, “Well, I want somebody with disposable income or wealthy people or people that are upper middle class,” or…

Tad:    Right.

Lisa:    You know, or even companies, right? “Well, I want to work with a company that has a marketing budget, or I want to work with a company with, you know, $2 million in revenue or more.”

What’s the assumption, Tad, that people make when they talk about, “Oh, I want clients with money”? What assumption are they making?

Tad:    They could afford to pay you a lot of money and hire you.

Lisa:    Yes! Exactly!

Tad:    Yeah, pay you a bunch and hire you.

Lisa:    Right! Right? “It makes sense if they have the money, they’re going to spend it on me and my services.”

Tad:    Right.

Lisa:    Which is kind of silly because we all know people’s money, they don’t spend it on what we think they should.

Tad:    Right.

Lisa:    I even always like to make the joke, like my husband thinks we could afford a whole new home theater system. I don’t think we could afford it, but yet I want to go to Hawaii for two weeks, right? It’s the same amount of money — it’s just what you value. So what I realized early on, when I was realizing that my niche wasn’t working and I wanted more than 20% of clients that I love, was that the specificity wasn’t there.

Her main point here was that, instead of saying, ‘I want rich people’ you’d be better off to clarify that you want people who not only can afford to hire you but who are ready and willing to spend the money on someone like you. That’s what you’re really after.

She also shared about a client who said she only wanted to work with women. Women is a demographic. So Lisa asked her, ‘Why?’. And she said, ‘I’m tired of dealing with bullying men.’ Ah! So, in the end, gender wasn’t the real thing she was after – she didn’t want clients who were bullies. An important distinction. And then of course, we don’t want to leave it with what we don’t want. We want to flip it to what she does want. So, for her, the opposite might be that she wants clients who are: open, communicative, cooperative, community minded, secure in themselves etc.

Here’s the key – whatever you think you want as a demographic as a client – be willing to question why you want that. What’s underneath it? What are you hoping that particular demographic will bring you? What are you hoping that is true of them because they’re a part of that demographic?

Demographics seem really specific but what’s even more specific is the reasons why you chose those demographics.

If you’re ready to begin looking at your niche and want some affordable help take a peek at my Niching 101 for Hippies program.


Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program