Coaching - To Niche or Not to Niche
Professional Certified Coach Bonnie Stith shares her reflections on a question that vexes many new life coaches : To niche, or not to niche?
By Lumia Instructor, Bonnie Stith
Bonnie is a coach, consultant, instructor, and mentor coach in our Signature Coach Training Program. She is an ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and her coaching passions are working with individuals looking to elevate their leadership skills—either in business or life –and mentoring coaches as they build their coaching skills.
Bonnie is a board member of her ICF Ohio Valley Chapter and speaks publicly and consults on leadership, organizational culture, and cyber security. You can check out her work at: stithcoachingandconsulting.com
Coaching—To Niche or Not To Niche?
What would it look like if you took a break on the niche selection thing while you figured out where lies your passion?
That’s a question I wish I had asked myself earlier on my route to defining my coaching niche. All too often I notice young coaches struggling to figure out their niche and I advise them to take their time and just settle into learning the mechanics of coaching.
Permission to Learn
Sometimes I think in the rush to define our niche, we overlook the value of settling into learning to coach.
So many of us chose coaching because we were told that we are great listeners and give great advice. But the truth about coaching is that our experience has nothing to do with the client’s experience — we are each on own individual journeys, and it is not our wisdom the client needs about what to do next.
The client needs our unjudging presence and curiosity to help them unlock their own wisdom as they define the steps they will take to move forward toward their desired future.
Therefore, if our subject matter expertise is NOT required and our coaching experience IS required, what might we overlook in the rush to claim a niche too soon? I believe we might turn away prospective clients who would benefit from our curiosity and might help us develop our ability to be the fully present, unbiased, and curious coach our clients deserve!
Purpose vs Passion
Over the 10 years that I have been coaching, I’ve come to realize that while I prefer working with executives and leaders because of my strong belief that people deserve good leaders, my real purpose is coaching people to unlock the wisdom that helps them realize their hopes and dreams. After all, if someone does not want to become a better leader, is any amount of coaching going to change them?
Along the way I had another big “aha,” and many Lumia Coaching students have heard me state this in class or mentoring: ALL coaching resolves to life.
After all, while I like working with leaders and have a passion around the idea of strengthening leadership, how much of what my leadership clients bring to our coaching sessions as "leadership issues" has to do with how they view and approach life issues (either consciously or unconsciously)? The reality is that most of what we work on has everything to do with life and how it manifests itself in their leadership styles inside and outside of the workplace.
In the early days, I turned away clients that didn’t fit into my defined “niche” of executive and leadership coaching. Following my big “aha,” however, I’ve expanded my passion around leadership to incorporate working with clients to help them lead the lives they want to lead outside of the corporate setting. After all, leadership is about more than who we are at work.
And as I’ve branched out into Mentor Coaching, understanding my purpose and passion has allowed me to better define how I show up as a mentor. In keeping with my own passion around leadership, I deliberately sought out Mentor Coach Certification to continue to fulfill my coaching purpose and fulfill my passion to strengthen other coaches as they build and lead their own coaching practices.
Good Coaching Earns (And Keeps!) Clients, Not Niches
I’m not advocating for no niches in coaching. I’m advocating for taking the pressure off in rushing to define a niche if you don’t have one.
More important than defining a niche and marketing yourself in the early days of your coaching journey, is learning to coach. Focus first on mastering the techniques that help your clients to deepen their learning and forward their movement toward their desired end state.
While clients may reach out to you because of your niche, winning and keeping clients comes with coaching mastery. No one refers family, friends and colleagues to a website—they refer them to a trusted coach.
If you give yourself permission to take the time you need to learn how to coach, your niche will still be there when you’re ready to launch your practice. Spoiler alert: you might discover it’s not what you thought it would be.
Yours in Coaching,
Ready to Become A Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like a partner in the process, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.