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Building Your Business

Choose Your Coaching Niche Using the Seven Stories Exercise

Selecting your coaching specialty can feel like a monumental decision, but it doesn’t need to be a difficult one. Try this exercise to help narrow your focus!

Help! I Can't Decide On My Coaching Niche!

Coaching niches. It’s a topic that gets a lot of attention in this industry, and can quickly become a source of anxiety if you’re not sure what you’d like to specialize in yet.

You KNOW you want to be a coach, but the question is: Doing WHAT? 

If you’ve gotten stuck in a loop, Googling phrases like “most in demand coaching niches,” it’s high time for a new approach! 

Selecting your coaching specialty can feel like a monumental decision, but it doesn’t need to be a difficult one. In this blog, we’ll walk you through a simple process for discovering the answer that's right for you... from the inside-out.

​​But first, let’s quickly review what a coaching niche is and why you might need one.

What’s A Coaching Niche?

A niche is your area of specialization within the broader coaching industry. There's already plenty of generic life coaches out there, which is why many successful coaches choose to narrow their focus. 

As you start thinking about potential niches, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) has identified a set of Coaching Themes that provide a useful place to begin. They include:

  • Communication Skills
  • Health/Wellness
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Career
  • Organizational Development/Leadership Development
  • Personal Growth
  • Self Confidence
  • Team Development
  • Work-Life Balance

Why Niche?

Hoping to grow a successful coaching business? The purpose of a niche is to differentiate your product or service. A niche helps your ideal clients find you, and allows you to sell your services as a life coach to a specific group of people.

From this perspective, choosing a coaching niche is essentially a marketing decision. 

Who Do You Want to Help?

People work with coaches because they want something – they have a goal in mind, a problem to be solved, or they want a specific end result. 

Having a specific coaching niche allows you to get clear about who your ideal clients are. That in turn gives you clarity about your message, and the transformation you can help others achieve. 

It's also a way to bring greater focus to the work you do. A coaching specialty allows you to dive deep into a particular field of interest or expertise. This encourages you to get really good at understanding your clients biggest hurdles, and delivering results for people who are looking for support in a specific area.

Where To Begin?

Odds are, there’s more than one area you may be interested in exploring. So how do you choose?

As a coach, you’re bringing a whole lot to the table. In addition to your coach-specific training, you have a wealth of life experiences and professional skills behind you already, ones that can potentially be combined into your coaching practice in numerous ways.

Considering all those possibilities can itself lead to analysis paralysis!

Often, when we’re overwhelmed or feeling pressured, we might gravitate toward something quickly just to get the decision made. But with the following exercise, we’re going to invite you to do the opposite. 

So grab a pen and paper - it’s time to mine your past for clues to your future!

Seven Stories Exercise to Find Your Coaching Niche

Man looking at open notebook with thoughtful expression

This process is adapted for coaches from The Seven Stories Exercise, created by author and career counselor Kate Wendleton. It’s inspiration comes from career transitions pioneer Bernard Haldane, who helped military personnel bridge their skills to civilian life in the 1940s.

Step 1: Identify 25 Experiences

As you think back on your life, make note of 25 accomplishments or experiences that really stand out for you. Consider things you enjoyed doing, or that made you feel proud. 

These don’t all need to be recent. Nor do they have to be Big Milestones that anybody other than yourself would recognize as an “achievement.” What you’re looking for are experiences that capture some aspect of who you are: what makes you feel good, and what “performing well” looks and feels like for you.

Cast a wide net across your memories, including the distant past. Some places you might draw from include:

  • Childhood interests
  • School experiences
  • Hobbies
  • Professional projects
  • Career accomplishments
  • Volunteer and community roles

As you note down your peak experiences, try to be as specific as possible.

Instead of writing “debate team,” get really clear about what the highlight of that experience was for you. That might sound more like, “Took on my fear of public speaking by joining the high school debate team, and went on to place second at a regional competition.”

Be patient with yourself if 25 ideas don’t immediately come to mind. You’ll find them. It may take several days to round out your list - no need to rush it! 

Step 2: Hone your list to 7

Go back over that list of 25, and select 7 that really stand out for you. Which ones are you most proud of? What experiences gave you the most joy? 

Now take those 7 and rank them in order of importance. 

Step 3: Write the stories

Time to get creative by writing a narrative for each of your top seven experiences. These stories can be however long (or short) you like. The idea is to recount what happened: where you were, what you did, the skills you used and the impact it made.

Again, take your time with this step. What you capture here will provide important information in the subsequent steps of this process.

As you craft the stories, consider:

  • What’s the context? What was happening at that time?
  • Why did you get involved? What was your motivation?
  • Was anybody else involved? If so, how did collaborating with others impact your experience?
  • What did you do? What was your role?
  • What existing skills did you draw upon?
  • What did you learn in the process?
  • How did you feel while you were doing it?
  • What did you achieve?
  • Why was it enjoyable for you?

Step 4: Deconstruct your stories

Ready to play detective? You’re about to review all the stories to identify broader themes. What you're looking for are the skills, patterns, and personal qualities that you possess that show up across multiple narratives.

Consider:

  • Are there any common threads running through these stories?
  • What skills do I regularly draw upon or exemplify?
  • What do these stories tell me about my interests and values?
  • What motivates me?
  • What brings me happiness or a sense of accomplishment?

Step 5:  Map what you’ve discovered to the coaching industry

Using your findings, it’s time to narrow in on coaching specialties that could be a good fit!

Begin by noting the ways your skills and interests could be combined into a variety of configurations. From there, identify at least five specific coaching niches that link back to what you’ve learned about who you are, what you're most skilled at, and the conditions that bring you the most joy or sense of accomplishment.

Let’s take a look at some examples to see how it works.

Skills: Emotional intelligence, empathy, and working well with others 

Niche: Relationship Coach or EQ Coach

Skills: Problem solving, efficiency, creating systems

Niche: Productivity Coach

Skills: Motivating teams, creating a clear vision, business acumen

Niche: Leadership or Business Coach

Skills: Financial savvy, good with numbers

Niche: Financial Coach

Need a list to refer to as you make your mental map? Check out our resource guide 20 Hottest Life Coaching Niches for some ideas to get you started.

The best niche for you, and the one that’s most likely to lead to a successful coaching business, is one where you feel most at home with yourself. This exercise is intended to help you in reflecting on what that really looks like for you.

If you’re thinking about becoming a business coach, but none of your peak experiences involved business related accomplishments, it's worth considering whether that would be a satisfying match for you long term.

Likewise, if you possess a ton of interpersonal strengths and excell in areas that require communication skills, but never really thought of yourself as a relationship expert... you might be inspired by these findings to give a specialty like relationship coaching a closer look.

Coaching clients are drawn to your energy as well as your expertise. In choosing a specific area, it pays to choose a coaching niche that most lights you up from the inside-out. 

Ready to Become A Coach?

A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. We train and certify adventurous coaches, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love and transform lives, on your terms. If you're ready to join an incredible community of coaches, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training

Lumia Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.

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