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Finding Your Niche Means Facing Your Gremlins

Posted by Rosa Edinga, MBA, CEC, PCC | December 14, 2018 | Comments (1)

Evidence is everywhere that coaching is growing. The International Coach Federation (ICF) recently announced that it had exceeded 25,000 ICF Credential-holders and more than 30,000 Members. There is an increase in articles, books, podcasts and interviews about coaching. The number of people identifying themselves as a coach is skyrocketing. Life coaches. Leadership coaches. Performance coaches. Health coaches. Financial coaches. Career coaches. Coaching is everywhere.

Success as a coach often becomes tied to standing out from the crowd, being different, distinguishing yourself from others providing the same service. A powerful way to stand out is to narrow your field of service, find a niche and serve that niche well. The steps sound simple. Identify a subgroup of the population that you want your coaching skills to serve. Some experts suggest making your niche as specific as possible. Once you have identified your ideal client group, become immersed in knowing their challenges and pain points, then create tools and resources that add value to their lives. Finally, focus your marketing and networking efforts to find your ideal clients, and make it easier for them to find you.

The point of finding and pursing your niche is to stand out. To be different. To declare to the world that what you have to offer is valuable, unique and worth the price tag.

Is it any wonder that doing the work to differentiate yourself awakens those negative narratives we all carry with us? The inner critic. The self-limiting voice. The saboteur. The judge. The detractor. The backseat driver. The attacker. The nag. That fear-based voice we hear when we are on the verge of something different, something bigger. Or as I like referring to them, your gremlin(s).

It is your gremlin that asks questions like:

  • What if I choose the wrong niche? What if it is so focused that I put myself out of a job?
  • What if there is another group that I could serve better?
  • What if they can’t find me? Or worse, what if they find me and find out I have nothing of value to share?
  • There is already someone out there serving my niche, and likely doing it better. What if there is no room for me?
  • What if I don’t have the right background for my niche to take me seriously?

The gremlin can be predictable, with its “what if” questions. It can also be very sneaky and use charming language that speaks to your ego like “I am way too talented to focus on one group, I need to be open to serving anyone and everyone.”

Regardless of your gremlin’s words, tone, language or trickery, it can distract you from exploring who can be best served by your unique combination of experience, expertise and passion.

So what if, instead of letting this fear-driven gremlin distract your efforts, you chose to understand your gremlin? What if it held some valuable information or perspective?

First, acknowledge the gremlins. We all have them. Acknowledging their existence is the first step in diffusing their power. Our gremlins are our thoughts, after all. And we are broader, richer, and have more depth than our thoughts alone. Our gremlins reflect only a part of us. They do not represent us in our entirety.

Once you acknowledge your gremlins, take the time to get to know them. What do they look like? What do they sound like? Whose voice is it? When are they most active? How do you behave when they are around? Some of my clients find it powerful to draw out their gremlins.

Once you get to know more about your gremlins,  you can begin a deeper exploration and decode the messages they are trying to share. What are your gremlins trying to achieve? In the context of your niche-finding journey, what are they most afraid of?

The answers to these questions will help reduce blind spots as you differentiate yourself.

Are your gremlins at their loudest as you narrow your niche to focus on a specific leadership group? Check your alignment with the niche you have identified—do you truly light up at the thought of serving this group? If yes, thank your gremlin for the reminder to do the gut check.

Are they most active as you define the value you bring to your niche? Make extra sure you are solid in how you communicate value and how you support your claim, and let them know that you have it covered.

Thank your gremlins for the message and assure them that you have it under control. Then continue on your journey to share your unique gifts with those for whom they bring the most value.


©Fiamma Coaching and Consulting/Rosa Edinga

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Rosa Edinga, MBA, CEC, PCC

Rosa Edinga, MBA, CEC, PCC, is a Leadership Coach, facilitator and thought-partner who passionately supports those she works with to reach their goals and create the life they desire.  Find out more about how she and her team at Fiamma can support you to move more quickly towards your goals by visiting or following her on Facebook, Instragram and Twitter at @fiammacoaching.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (1)

  1. Anubhav says:

    Rose, I love the way you address doubts & objections as Gremlins. That’s ingenious.
    And the technique you share to treat them as helpful agents while deciding on a niche is amazing.
    But I know you didn’t discuss much if any about customer pain-points that affect a coach’s choice of niche.

    Brian McCarthy put this brilliantly by saying – “Customers ‘switch on’ when topics that they care about are on the table. Instead of wasting money on irrelevant content and advertising, take the time to first tailor your key messages so that they echo your customers’ needs. By doing this you will speak in a language and on topics which your customer will genuinely be interested in.”

    By referring to pain rather than needs or preferences reinforces the point: Customers are people. They appreciate the world through the prism of their experiences. They sense what challenges or bothers them–their pain–but they often can’t even conceive of the solutions–their needs.

    Once you have a dedicated list of pain points, you’d then have to set up the messaging/copywriting on your coaching website and simultaneous email campaigns to talk about these problems & their solutions.

    As Ilise Benun writes, this way your ideal clients would come to know three very important things –

    • That you understand what they’re struggling with
    • That you’ve seen it before
    • And that you know how to deal with it.

    If you approach your self-promotion this way, it goes a long way toward building trust, especially with clients who don’t know you yet and how great you are. If you don’t address their pain points first, you may never get the opportunity to tell them how you can help them. Their pain is the doorway to a conversation.

    Really enjoyed the Gremlin perspective for finding one’s niche. And it makes sense to have certain aversions before focusing on a single problem or topic. But, in today’s world, you do really need to stand out as a coach in the industry to succeed.

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