Big Idea Number Two to Figuring Out Your Niche

Figuring out how to relate to niching is one of the most powerful things you can do in your business. If you’d like some hand holding on that, you can check out my Niching for Hippies program but here’s a quick idea that can be a big time game changer for you.

It’s the idea that, before building a big home to live in, why not build a smaller bird house to get some practice.  Start small. It’s amazing what can happen.

Big Idea #2: Think ‘niche projects’ not a niched business.

So, it may be true that you don’t need a niche and that, even if you go for it that there’s no need to rush it, but the fact remains that clarifying who you are trying to reach makes everything easier.

The idea of ‘niche projects’ is probably the biggest and most liberating notion around niching I’ve ever had.

In fact, it’s the entire goal of our six weeks.

At the end of the six weeks you may or may not have a niche for your whole business and gotten married to it, but that’s not the goal.

Our entire goal for the six week program is something much simpler – it’s to help you come up with a niche project (like going on a date).

That’s it.

Let me distinguish: a niched business is like Mountain Equipment Coop. They’re an outdoors store for outdoorsy people. They’re a counselor who works exclusively on phobias. They’re a life coach who works with people around the transition of retirement. Their whole website, their business cards, their speeches etc. are all wrapped around that theme. A niched business is exclusive. If you can get to this point your business will grow faster than you can imagine.

A niche project is like a creating a workshop on a theme, a webinar on a particular problem, creating a series of web videos addressing a particular issue. A niched project is explicit but not exclusive (your project may only focus on one group but the rest of your business can focus on others). A niched project is you going on a big date with someone, but you’re not married yet.

You can only have ONE niche in a niched business but if you’re dating around a bit you can have plenty of niche projects on the go (you dog).

In essence, it’s about creating a few niche projects before you consider creating a niche business.

Here are five reasons to consider starting a niche project:

  • REASON #1: Niche projects take less work than niching a whole business (but can open the doors to a niche business)
  • REASON #2: Niche projects can give you real world experience with the niches you’re considering. It’s easy to theorize that a niche would be great but you can’t actually know til you’ve interacted with them.
  • REASON #3: Niche projects can allow you to explore new landscapes without having to move there. You can work with a niche group without having to become trapped in a reputation of only working with that group. You can still have your general business too.
  • REASON #4: Doing a niche project might just open the doors for you into new ventures and connections you could never have imagined.
  • REASON #5: Your niche project might just turn into your main thing.

Let me tell you a story.

Years ago, I worked with an organization in California that did summer camps around environmental and social justice issues. We did these camps all around the States and Canada. And one day, as many people do with their niches, I got tired of doing the camps. I still loved them. Still thought they were important. But I wasn’t on fire about them anymore. So I moved back to Canada.And then the directors of the organization tried to recruit me back. But I told them I didn’t want to go back to the camps.

‘Well,’ they asked. ‘If you were going to design a project what would it be?’

I told them my dream project. It would be to bring together leading young change makers from around the world for a week. I’d been to so many conferences where the whole damn thing was just plenary speaker after plenary speaker talking to thousands of people in the room and meanwhile there were only thirty people I most wanted to meet. ‘If I could just get them together for a week with no big schedule and no big name speakers it could be amazing.’

‘No.’ They said.

‘No?’ I asked.

‘It’s too much work. We did something like that three years ago and it cost a fortune and took way too much time.’

‘ . . . okay. Well, I’ll see you down the road I guess.’ And hung up the phone.

A week later they contacted me saying, ‘Okay. You can do it but it’s yours. If this falls apart it’s yours to clean up.’

‘Cool.’ I said. And spent the next four months pulling the event together.

It was, surprisingly to them (and much to my relief) a huge success.

‘We have to do this again next year!’ they said.

And so we did. They next year was even better. The year after that we did two of them (one of which was a total disaster but that’s another story). Now this program (the events are called ‘Jams’) is the core program of the organization I worked with. It’s basically all they do. Their are local and regional Jams held all around the world.

What started off as a niche project ended up becoming the niche of the organization.

Let me state this another way: the ‘Jams’ project has become the core source of all funding that this organization gets. It’s now the thing their funders are most excited about and the biggest thing that makes them unique.

What was once a project has become the core of their livelihood. Not a bad result for a simple little experiment.

This kind of thing happens all the time.

But it can never happen without being willing to take a risk and try something new.


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

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