Uncover Your Coaching Niche Using The WHY Exercise
Career Fulfillment coach Laura Criscione shares how she discovered her coaching niche, with practical resources & exercises you can use to help find yours!
Guest blog by Laura Criscione
Laura Criscione is a Life & Career Fulfillment Coach, helping women who feel unfulfilled in their career bring more joy, meaning, and purpose into their everyday life and work! She uses positive psychology frameworks to help her clients see what's out of alignment with who they are and where they want to go. The core of her coaching is helping them gain clarity on what fulfilling life & career paths align with their values, strengths, personal mission, and lifestyle - and building the confidence to pursue it!
Laura is a 2020 graduate of Lumia's Life Coach Training program. You can follow her work on Instagram @itsme.laurac or by visiting her webpage.
Your Coaching Niche Stems From Your Personal Mission
For many new coaches, one of the first difficult decisions to make is choosing your coaching niche. When you're trying to kickstart your business, it can feel daunting if you're feeling stuck about which direction to take.
So if you’re looking for some tips and tricks to help you gain clarity on your niche for your business, I’m here to help!
But first, I want to remind you that your niche does not have to be something to stress over. It will come to you, because well, it’s already inside of you! Just waiting for the time to be uncovered.
Why? Because it stems from your personal mission - something you already have. If you're not yet sure what that is, that's OK. I'll be sharing some tools in this blog to help you put it into tangible words and ideas that can help guide you toward your niche.
So how did I find MY niche? It came from my mission and something that I felt so intensely passionately about - Fulfillment. Let's take a minute to unpack how I figured that out.
How I Uncovered My Mission
I had just graduated college and was working in my first 9-5 job feeling SO empty and unfulfilled. The company had a toxic work culture, and I would sit at my desk everyday wondering if this was all I would do with my life.
Waking up to go into work was a chore. Stress and chronic pain were at an all time high. I didn’t understand how this was what I would do for the next 30+ years.
I hated it, but what I hated more was feeling that way.
I thought: Wait, shouldn’t I be grateful to have a job? It took me 6 months to find this job, and this is what you do once you graduate, so why am I feeling like this??
It was during this hopeless time that I found what I didn’t even know I needed…… life coaching!
I joined my first group coaching program when I felt so stuck and didn’t know what to do next. And it changed my life.
From coaching I learned I have way more choices than I originally thought. It was just up to ME to change my perspective.
Months after the program, I finally had the courage to say aloud that I wanted to become a coach myself. That’s when I found Lumia coaching and enrolled right away.
From my coaching experience I realized that I wanted to help people in the same way that coaching helped me. To support people battling the decision whether to continue down the conventional career path they were told to take, or go after what is calling them, even if no one else understands. To help them find the courage and strength to carve their own aligned path and question the status quo. To live on their own terms.
Now, I’m a Life + Career Fulfillment coach doing just that.
Strategies to Discover YOUR Coaching Niche
STEP 1- Dissect your Story
As I heard many times in my coach training with Lumia, your story is your gold. And boy, is that 100% true.
Why? Because your story is what will bring clients to you. Your ability to convey that you know what people are going through is what makes clients see themselves in your words.
So what does that have to do with our coaching niche? Quite a bit!
Here’s a formal definition of the word: A niche is a specific solution (your coaching framework) that you provide that helps to solve a problem for a client.
Your niche is part of your story; it’s an area of your life that you’ve been through that you want to help others in now.
So how do you decide which life area to use as your niche? Here’s an exercise to do!
- Get out a pen and paper and divide the sheet into 2 columns.
- On the left side, write down all of the life experiences you’ve been through, struggles you’ve overcome or things you’ve accomplished that you feel passionate about speaking on.
- On the right side of the paper across from those life experiences, write a potential solution for each struggle that you could help others with that you could frame your coaching around.
Here are some examples from my own life:
Life Experience #1 : Leaving my unfulfilling 9-5 job
Coaching Solution: Helping women leave unhealthy work environments for career happiness by gaining confidence and clarity on their next step.
Life Experience #2: Living with chronic pain for 10+ years
Coaching Solution: Helping chronic pain sufferers find more hope and peace in their lives with mindset work.
Life Experience #3: Going through a bad breakup after a 5 year relationship
Coaching Solution: Helping women build up their confidence again after a breakup, creating happiness and living a life on their terms.
Now it's YOUR turn!
Write down at least 3-5 different ideas of your own. Once you have this list, it’s time for step 2.
STEP 2 - Source from Intrinsic Motivation
Now that you have some of your life experiences in mind, it’s SUPER important to narrow this down pulling from Intrinsic Motivation and your personal WHY. To do that, go through the list and ask yourself these 4 questions:
- Which one sticks out to you the most? Which is CALLING you?
- Which are you most passionate about? What could you talk about for hours?
- Which one would people pay for? Have you seen other coaches in this niche? Would YOU pay for this? (this can be done and tested with market research later on)
- Which one would you do for free? This is huge. If you wouldn’t spend your time on this without being paid for at least 6 months, it’s not strong enough.
These questions help you get to the core of what is intrinsically motivating to you. If something is internally motivating and satisfying, you are more likely to spend more time, effort, money, and resources on it because you naturally care about it.
If it’s only extrinsically motivating (based on external rewards or to avoid punishment) you may get bored or give up entirely because it’s only a source of income, not something that your heart is truly in.
For me, I chose Life + Career Fulfillment coaching because it was something I could talk about for HOURS. It was something I was okay doing for months and years without pay until I grew my skills as a coach and entrepreneur. It’s directly correlated to my personal WHY, which is why I keep going even when it gets hard.
Go through the list and see which one of your life experiences check off all these boxes!
STEP 3- Use your WHY
The next step is about using your own WHY to solidify your choice.
So what is your WHY? Simon Sinek popularized this concept, and describes it as the deep-seated purpose, cause or belief that drives every person's individual life and career. It is the source of our passion and inspiration.
This is MY Why: To awaken people’s inner strength and confidence so they can carve their own fulfilling and aligned paths.
To find yours, you'll need to tap into your personal WHY for your business, but also for your niche in order to find long term fulfillment.
If you want to try Sinek's full WHY uncovering exercise, check out his book Find Your WHY. Or you can do the following shorter journaling exercise.
Stream of Consciousness Writing
Journal about why you’re starting your business. Why did you decide to become a coach? What about this work is this important to you? Allow everything to come up, don’t hold back here.
For every answer you get, keep asking yourself the same question: What about this is important to me?
Do it at least 5-7 times until you get to the core of your answers. Usually emotions will come up and that is absolutely okay. Actually, it’s a great sign! That means you got to the core of your emotional truth, your WHY.
Once you get a better understanding of your WHY, go back to your niche selection and see how it aligns. Does it? Is there another one that aligns more? Sit with this for a little bit if you want.
STEP 4- Practice!
The fourth step is just to practice and COACH. You have to practice talking about this topic in a coaching setting to see how you feel about it.
Now, you’re going to be dipping into many different areas of a person’s life regardless of what niche you choose, because of how complex and interconnected the human experience is. The best thing you can do is just continue to practice. The more you do it, the more you will see what feels natural to bring into sessions and what you don’t want to spend a lot of your time on.
Want some ideas on how to find clients to practice with? Take a look at Lumia's resource guide How to Find Coaching Clients: 11 Strategic Tips To Try.
STEP 5-Go with the Flow
Don’t forget that your niche is allowed to change. Your niche may, and probably will, shift over time as you evolve as both a person and a coach. Don’t be concerned by this, but use it as an opportunity to grow and expand in your business.
It’s important to remember at the beginning that NOTHING is set in stone.
You try some niches out and see how you feel about having those types of conversations. After a while if you realize you don’t necessarily vibe with it, you can pivot. You can go back to your list and do steps 1 and 2 again!
Keep testing until you have data about what fits you and your target audience.
This is exactly how many of the most successful coaches we see out there today got started. Trial and error. Testing ideas to see what works with clients, and where you feel most called to be of service.
Just one final thought here, don’t stress about your niche. The clarity will come. The wording and how you market yourself in that niche will come. There will be time to change and pivot until everything feels aligned. I’m still doing it! Recognize the powerful work that you’re doing and enjoy the journey.
And you don't need to just take my word for it! I encourage you to also explore what longtime executive coach and Lumia Coaching instructor Bonnie Stith has to say on the topic in her blog Coaching - To Niche or Not to Niche.
If you go through these steps, I would love to hear what you think! Don’t hesitate to connect on Instagram at @itsme.laurac to chat or if you’re curious to learn more about fulfillment coaching!
Want to Become A Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Laura 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 some partners 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.