Niche Case Study: Career vs. Calling

Lorraine was a part of my six week Niching for Hippies program and, by the end of it, we’d all basically decided to elect her class president for her incredible marketing insights and technological brilliance in helping us with online things and facebook.

Lorraine is a life coach.

So what.

Not to be harsh but lots of people are life coaches. Why should I care?

Life coaching is the boat that gets me from Island A to Island B. All I care about is if it can help me on my particular journey.

Trying to sell ‘life coaching’ when hundreds of others are doing the same is hard work. What’s much easier is helping people see how what you do can help them along their way.

So, Lorraine dug in and thought about who she most wanted to help with her work. And when she reflected on her own struggles the answer became all to clear – she wanted to help corporate women who wanted ‘out’ of the corporate world.


Name: Lorraine Watson

What is the niche you’ve come up with? Who is it? What are the problems they struggle with?

The niche I focused on during the NFH course was corporate career women between 35-45 who set the bar high, give their best in everything they do, and are motivated by the intrinsic rewards of a job well done and helping others succeed.

What looks like a great life by most standards, she’s frickin’ tired of struggling with this inner nagging there’s more to life without a clue what that life looks like. She knows in her soul she can make a real difference in the world. She’s explored so many options, but nothing connects as “this is it!”

She feels lost, passionless and far beyond fed up with going in circles trying to figure out what to do. With so many unknowns she’s not ready to leave what actually is a pretty good job to start a business. The steady income is paying the bills, making one less pressure to worry about while she figures things out.

What’s the result you are helping them to achieve?

These women are looking for a deeper sense of meaning and spirituality.

They find a renewed sense of purpose and direction by discovering what their “more to life” looks like. Working together we bring to light the unique expression of who she is so she can finally relax and start being her true self. Her true self becomes the guiding compass in figuring out what gifts she is here to contribute and the difference she is meant to make. She can stop with all the do-do. Life clicks. She feels more alive than ever knowing she is on track with what she was meant to do.

How was the process of coming to this niche for you? Was it hard? Easy? A struggle? Something you’d already been working on?

The most difficult part of defining the niche was finding the words to take the concept from my head into words others would understand and connect with emotionally. Moving beyond the jargon and generalities was helpful in getting to those connections. I’ve known I wanted to work with people going through this transition period in their life. Working through the niching process helped me to gain deeper clarity and become more specific about what their journeys would look like and who I could be most helpful for.

Why this niche? What’s the story here? What can you say about your personal connection to this niche? Were you once in a similar boat? What made you think you had something to offer here?

This is my story, at least 98% because I did quit my job.

I spent several years ignoring the signs I was being called to something more until finallyI hit 1995 – what I call my “Lost Year”.  A job well done and solving problems wasn’t enough anymore to drown out the inner nagging.  I was getting physically sick.  I might have been close to depression by today’s standards.  I felt so lost without knowing where to turn.  I tried everything and nothing clicked.  I figured if I kept doing something I would stumble across what I was meant to do.  When I look back at my life I was the poster child for living a lost life.  I gave up my dream of becoming a doctor when I was in grade 11.  From that point on I seemed to follow the best of the worst of what was available.  What turned everything around was taking my Reiki Level I course in May 1996.  I remember thinking to myself an hour hadn’t even passed in the class and I finally knew energy was my home.  I came out of the spirituality closet.  I allowed myself to be intuitive again after years spent in techie-land and sciences.  I renewed my sense of curiosity and exploration to discover what could have been different for me to shorten my time spent lost.   I know in order to follow your call to purpose doesn’t mean you have to turn woo-woo.  I wish I had me back then.

I wish I had me back then.

What’s the response been to this so far from the people you’ve shared it with?

I haven’t shared this widely at this point. Those who have been through this point where career feels pitted against calling know what an emotional and lonely time it can be.

How are you planning to reach this crowd? Any sense of the best hubs right now?

This is the element I working through with right now. A key element of this niche is they find themselves at a transition point at their life. They don’t see what’s ahead, yet they know what’s behind isn’t working either. They’re frustrated, scared, alone and really don’t know where to turn. This tends to be a time of isolation and withdrawal because your friends and family don’t understand and you don’t know people who’ve been through this before. How do you find what you don’t know you’re looking for?

My main thought has been to use the internet both as a way to be found and offer coaching, workshops, courses, etc. I live in a rural community so basing my services or means of connection on physical location isn’t necessarily the best approach. I would also like to reach a more global than local audience so leveraging technology also seems to be a great fit.

What did you learn about niching along the way?

The two biggies I would say are clarity and decision. When you truly embrace the niching you can’t help but go through a process of deepening clarity. And that means you have to make decisions. Decisions about who you are, what you desire, who you want to work with, where you can help and where you can’t, etc. Not making all these decisions are what holds us back in the first place. The deeper your clarity the more power your decisions will carry. Some might even call those decisions commitments.

The other thing I would say about niching is if you don’t get frustrated, throw a tantrum, run away, scream, lose some hair, wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it, and think you don’t really need a niche – you’re likely going through the motions rather than taking advantage of where the process can take you.

What are your next steps in exploring this niche? Any project ideas?

The next step is to work on my website in order to connect with people and communicate more of my ideas about making your way through this life transition or transformation. In addition to coaching, I have two other projects in mind. The first is a 30 or 60 day “Being Challenge” to help people discover the unique expression of who they are and begin to recognize its common threads woven throughout their lives. The second project is to host a couple of Clarity Circles inspired by your Hot Box events. If there proves to be an interest, my intent is to hold these on a regular basis as both individual events as well as part of the coaching process.

What would you say were the top three lessons you learned about niching from going through the six week Niching for Hippies program?

1) I’m more convinced than ever that group growth work, and learning in general, reaps exponential results far beyond what one person can accomplish on their own. The places you can go by swimming alone versus paddling with others in an outrigger canoe / dragon boat are incomparable. Community can have its challenges but they are beyond worth the effort.

2) Defining your niche takes time and a lot of what look like spinning your wheels, including starting over. Getting to the heart of your niche and the heart of your work isn’t a “1-2-3 spit out an answer” process. Undertaking this work is more like setting off on an adventure with a very rough sketch as a map. Our responsibility is to fill in the details as we make our way through previously uncharted, or ignored, territory.

3) Any niche is not better than the “right” niche. The misalignment shows through from lack of a heart connection or lack of authenticity. At that point you just have a job, and one you likely don’t want to keep. Sometimes the most aligned niches are the scariest but oh how they make perfect sense.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Does one ever really stop niching? Everyday is a good day to hub someone! 🙂


What I Might Do If I Were Her:

hone in: when I read this first, the words “career feels pitted against calling” jumped out at me. Career vs. Calling. That could be a great basis for a URL – or or something. I felt like in those few words she really got to the heart of it. It could be the basis of a great tagline too: helping women move from a dead career into a passionate calling. Or something.

her story is so powerful: the other thing that really grabbed me is how powerful her own story is here. My colleague Michael Margolis makes a compelling case that stories are the heart of marketing. And my colleague Nancy Juetten has written a brilliant ebook “Bye Bye Boring Bio” all about the power our bios have in our business. Your story of the things you’ve overcome gives you a tremendous amount of credibility. Much more than your list of educational credentials. I’d want to see her really develop and articulate her story. She’s off to a great start and I imagine this story will be at the heart of why certain women would want to work with her.

new url for this niche: again, this niche seems to be different than It doesn’t fit 100%. I would want to change the URL to something that really ‘named’ what she was up to.

what’s her system to get these women out?: I want to know more about her point of view. I want to know more about her system. What’s her map to get them from Island A to Island B? What does she consider to be the three key elements? What’s step #1, #2, #3 etc? Think of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Four Agreements etc. Very clear maps. Very clear structures. Having a clear journey you help people on builds relevance. Having a clear map builds credibility.

blog: I would love to see Lorraine have a blog where she could share the case studies of women who’ve made it out of the box. I’d love for her to share her learnings, TED talks that are relevant, other videos that are inspiring on the topic, cartoons, charts, graphs, guest posts, linked to relevant articles. In her case I think of the movie Lemonade or the One Week Job Project.

SEO optimization, Facebook Ads etc.: I don’t know much about the online marketing side of things but I know enough to know that her site, being so niched, could do with a heavy doze of though and strategy on Search Engine Optimization. And she might benefit from google adwords and facebook ads which can be targeted to exactly the kind of woman she wants to work with.

Guest post on other key blogs: If I were working with her, I’d have her create a hubs database for all the potential hubs for her and identify all the existing blogs that have a tonne of traffic (e.g. Escape from Cubicle Nation).

Differentiate: Once, she had that database, I’d want her to look at other things like Escape from Cubicle Nation and ask herself, ‘how am I different than this? What’s my unique voice I want to bring to this?’ And who would miss me if I went out of business and why?


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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