Does ‘finding your niche’ feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack? You’re not alone.
You’re thinking about going on your own, creating income as a freelance consultant or wanting to set up your own consultancy business, but perhaps you feel held back by not knowing exactly what ‘your thing’ is – your niche?
The reality is that, in order to find your niche, you have to be passionate about something and pursue that thing with all the vigour and commitment you can possibly muster. As an expert in my field who took the leap some years ago to start Alchemy Worldwide with Tessa Sharp, let me bring some questions and insights which can help – and they may not be what you were expecting to hear!
Where do I start?
To begin, your answers to the below questions will assist you in discovering what your niche is and more specifically who you are. Take time with this exercise and write down your answers. They may not come to you right away, and they may not be easy to find, and that’s okay.
- What do you stand for?
- How are you seen in this world?
- Are you seen in the way you want to be seen? How do you want to be seen?
- When you leave the room do people remember the things you want them to remember about you?
- What kind of lasting impression do you leave – what do you want them to think, feel, say or do as a response to meeting you?
There are many people who work in the field of consulting where a specific skill set is replicated by a multitude of professionals and it is very easy to become discouraged by the fact that you are one of many who need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. The challenge with establishing your niche is that many consultants use the same tools. For some this clearly works, particularly if you come from a background that involves some of the most respected names in consulting, but if you don’t, then you’ve got to be able to recognise, demonstrate and articulate your value in a different and memorable way.
What really matters; thinking beyond your niche
That difference shows up in the quality of the conversations that you have with prospective clients and even fellow colleagues.
- Does meeting you leave people thinking and feeling differently about the world they inhabit and the work they do?
- Does your very presence add value in a way that has previously been indeterminate?
- Do people feel uplifted, reassured, excited after meeting with you?
- And more importantly, do you believe in yourself enough to stand out?
In many ways, creating your niche or standing out from the crowd is, in itself, a myth. A myth bought into existence by the legacy of comparison.
What if having a niche didn’t matter at all? What if standing out from the crowd made you less likely to get work? That proposes a very different possibility. I believe your ability to create your niche is your ability to be fully present, to bring your authentic self to your professional relationships and that your very existence in the world adds value. This goes to the heart of confidence and identity.
Consulting is not for the faint-hearted. If you step into this world, you will find that nothing generates a greater quality of client and colleague relationships than being the natural you being who you are. The challenge of discovering your niche is the challenge of your ability to get in the way of yourself. I have seen and coached countless consultants over the years worldwide who may be technically highly competent and skilled in their field and yet do not manifest as having any real conviction or confidence in their personal brand or expertise.
It is quite easy to identify those people who have the ability to show up fully as themselves. You will recognise this immediately and more importantly you will be able to feel it. Have a think now about the people who you most respect, those that leave you with a feeling of being inspired, motivated, energised. What is it about them? And what is it about you?
A mindset of care for your clients
It is also really important to create a mindset of care for your customers or clients. If you care deeply about being of service, about delivering high quality support to them, willing to go the extra mile to exceed their expectations, your clients will sense this from all their interactions with you. To work from a place of care, sensitivity and generosity can catapult you ahead of the crowd who remain focused on driving income at the expense of the client relationship and needs.
Now don’t misunderstand, there are many out there who would jump at the opportunity to benefit from free counsel or services. Some are unscrupulous and will simply take until you stop offering. Others may need to experience your services, your value before they feel able to commit financially. It is a fine line, and only you can judge. It is likely, if you listen to your body, that your intuition will tell you if you’re feeling taken advantage of. And there is also the dilemma for some clients that, if you offer something to them free of charge, they may accept that you don’t value your services and they may not too. For others, you may find yourself selectively offering a free taster session or service.
At Alchemy Worldwide, we find it is super effective to give someone an experience of our work, rather than us talking about it. This is always a carefully considered and strategic choice. Take care not to be overly generous or to be overly self-interested by focusing too much on the money.
In conclusion, discovering your niche is more about:
- Discovering who you are, what you stand for
- The degree to which you know yourself and speak authentically from that place
- And how you show care for your customers, clients and colleagues.
Comment below with your thoughts and experiences related to finding your niche – I would love to hear!
Good luck in your journey, never feel alone or struggling with your thoughts or decisions – always reach out on email@example.com. We’re here to help so let’s start the conversation.