They say “the riches are in the niches.” Many coaches and gurus will tell you that you have to pick just one- to “niche it down” to something very specific, or your business is doomed.
While I get that it’s important to have a focus in your business, niching it down too much can be very limiting and myopic.
The beauty of being human is we have many interests and passions. Take me for example: I am passionate about business, spirituality, dogs, and personal growth. I am an NLP certified life/business coach, PR consultant, and professional copy writer. I cofounded and operate a nonprofit animal rescue, and I’m a dog expert. I talk about various perspectives, experiences. I don’t feel compelled to pick just one. I’d be bored to tears and drowning in monotony.
There’s also the concept of identifying your ideal client avatar (ICA)- that ONE ideal customer. Really? Just one? You see the worksheets where they ask you to write down every minute detail of who your ideal client is- what they look like, what books and magazines they read, what music they like; are they married or single? Male or female? Do they prefer their toilet paper to be up or down?
I know these exercises are designed to help you get into a certain mindset and home-in on a target audience, but to me, they are a bit ridiculous. My left brain kicks in and says: “How the fuck am I supposed to know what my ICA had for dinner last night? If they had steak instead of chicken does that mean they’re out?”
The questions I really ask when it comes to identifying my ICA are:
- Are they stuck and ready to make some meaningful changes in their lives?
- Do they need me, and can I help them?
- Are they 110% committed to taking action in creating their dream life and making a difference in the world?
- Are they 110% ready to invest in themselves and their future?
If the answer is “YES” to all of the above, then voila! They are my ideal client avatar.
I used to struggle with this and picking a niche. I thought if I didn’t pick a very precise niche and ICA, I might as well throw in the entrepreneurial towel. This was utterly suffocating to me. I can’t be boxed in like that. Nobody puts Baby in the corner.
The struggle officially ended when I saw a post about this by Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s a very successful guy, so I’m pretty sure he knows what he’s talking about.
“Being your full self can help you build something really meaningful.” — Gary V.
Then I thought about other highly successful coaches and mentors I admire— Mare Forleo, Tony Robbins, Amy Porterfield, Joe Dispenza, Bob Proctor, Esther Hicks, Dean and Graziosi. They help a broad spectrum of people, from billionaires to budding entrepreneurs; from stay at home moms and housewives, to the C-suite and athletes, and everything in between.
Consider two famous polymaths: Leonardo Da Vinci and Benjamin Franklin.
Da Vinci’s interests included invention, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, paleontology, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time.
Franklin was a leading writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.
Were they any less successful because of their myriad of interests, skills and achievements? Clearly not.
Sure, there are specialists who offer a very specific core competency. They mastered a skill or have the specific education and aptitude for it. If you specifically help women with fertility issues, and that’s your super power or genius zone, I’m not here to take that away from you by all means. Keep doing your thing.
However, many entrepreneurs aren’t specialists per se. They’re generalists with a variety of experiences, expertise, and interests in business and life and bring more than one thing to the proverbial table. Because of this, they often get so bogged down by feeling like they have to make a choice that they never get up from that table. They feel once they make that choice, then they’re stuck with it.
The good news is, you don’t have to pick just one. Being a generalist teaches you how to handle a broader audience. It allows you stretch your limits and challenge yourself as a creative businessperson. It opens you up to more opportunities. It gives you the opportunity to serve and help more people.
So, if you’ve been stressing over the idea that you have to pick one niche and feeling like it’s an unmovable fixture in your life and business, I’m here to let you off the hook. Quit trying to be so specific and go general. Don’t obsess over picking just one. Allow yourself to explore, play with different concepts and audiences, write out your interests and the things that excite you. Think about the things you truly enjoy doing, the things that give you fulfillment and meaning, then decide who needs it. Don’t feel like you have to settle on one thing. There is a giant world out there with so many people who need your special gifts. Don’t leave anyone out.