How to Discover Your Coaching Niche
Having completed a significant amount of coach training and surmounted my initial hurdle to call myself a coach the next challenge loomed on the horizon. I vividly remember the conversational ebb and flow with a fellow coach grinding to a sudden halt with the question: “What’s your coaching niche?”
Words failed me and I was utterly flummoxed.
Looking back through the golden glasses of hindsight, there was no Eureka moment or flash of inspiration when I eventually realized my niche: taking coaching conversations outdoors.
Be Willing to Adapt
Working on the analogy of a picture paints a thousand words. My initial foray into coaching is clearly reflected in the original photos captured for my website that reflect what type of coach I believed I was at that time, as I contemplated two mainstream options:
- Leadership Coach: After nine years as a British Army officer, the leadership route was an obvious choice, and I had several former military colleagues who worked successfully within this field.
- Business Coach: My interpretation of this entity centers on business strategy, corporate plans, goals and hitting KPIs. I’m drawn to the people at the heart of a business and their motivators, behavior, relationships and communication, so I was in the process of discounting this idea.
Fast-forward four years, and the images shot for my new website look considerably different and reflect incremental changes as I’ve developed my style, brand and approach. Gone is the smart yet bland corporate uniform I initially favored, yet simultaneously stifled my creativity and authentic self. It was only once I had the courage and confidence to move beyond my own perceptions and assumptions of the corporate world that I was able to truly find my coaching niche.
Take Your Time
“You discover your niche; you don’t choose it” —Tad Hargrave
My key learning from this process is that sometimes these decisions take time to unravel and reveal themselves; there is no need to rush.
Over time, I began to research and uncover wider scientific research that strongly indicates the positive correlation of physical and mental benefits with the integration of movement and nature within daily routine. Evidence from a variety of cross-disciplines—physiological, psychological, neurological, aerobic, cognitive, cardio—caught my attention, though it’s my intuitive personal connection to the outdoor space that really struck a chord.
The power of hindsight unearthed endless memories strung over 40 years that reinforces this genuine passion. Even as a newly commissioned 20-nothing-year-old Second Lieutenant in the British Army, with limited life experience, I loved taking work-based conversations with members of my Logistics Troop outside, even if it was just onto the vehicle park. Listening and asking questions in an outdoor setting formed the basis of my leadership skills to support older, worldlier soldiers who faced a raft of family, career, alcohol and drug challenges.
Once the seemingly disparate dots joined up, everything made perfect sense. Taking coaching conversations outdoors combine the forces of movement and nature. Coupled with my own qualifications and experience, it injected a special dynamic and energy into my coaching. The outdoors became my natural coaching realm and has unintentionally become a fantastic unique selling proposition (USP) that’s been a successful differentiator in my business development. One of my clients, Naomi Copping, who is the head of HR at National Composites Centre in Bristol, best sums up the value it brings to her:
“The opportunity to get out of the office environment and increase the focus on the coaching conversation whilst reducing the intensity of a face to face conversation! It was also a different approach that stood out from the other coaches ‘on the list’.”
Discovering your coaching niche is an ongoing journey, which you’ll refine and develop even further as you gain more experience and skills. Be open and confident to change. It will be a constant companion as your business grows to serve your clients. It can be helpful to seek feedback from your current clients to gain insight into your unique offering and identify key themes. Sometimes we’re blind to our strengths and fail to recognize our special powers that we bring to our coaching practice.
Make sure you’re able whole-heartedly dedicate time to reflect on your findings when and where you’re feeling creative, energized and resourceful. This might involve scheduling time, planning a work retreat or brainstorming ideas with a colleague or peer coach. Finding your niche doesn’t have to be a solo venture!
- What am I passionate about?
- What do I love doing?
- What am I specifically drawn towards?
- What feels natural?
Most importantly have fun and enjoy experimenting with different ideas in your hunt for your perfect niche!