When I first decided to become a coach, the only experience I had with the coaching industry is something I had heard almost on accident. I was doing some spring-cleaning and I came across a box of audio CDs someone in my household had ordered from a life coach a couple years ago, but no one had ever listened to. I put them on while I was doing my spring cleaning and the words that entered my ears through the sound waves coming from my portable CD player, this was before iPods, changed my life forever.
I started journaling again. I started really thinking about my life’s purpose. I started writing in my journal about everything I was destined to do and be and feel and live. During one of my journaling sessions, I ﬁgured out that it was my calling to be a coach. I did not know exactly what that was in the professional sense, but I did know that “coaching” was something I had been doing in my life for a long time and I was determined to explore the profession further.
I began some research on the computer and for weeks I researched the coaching industry, coaching schools, and other coach’s websites and ordered coaching books in droves. I found out there was life coaching and business coaching. The concept of business coaching really excited me. Because of my background in business as an entrepreneur and my background in Real Estate, I naturally thought of becoming a business coach for Realtors. I had been in the industry since college. I had been a successful Realtor and was currently an office manager for a top team in the area. I felt I knew the common ups and downs of the business as well as the kind of person in this industry. Coaching was a rather new concept at the time, yet one that seemed to be embraced already by this profession. People saw the beneﬁts and there were already people coaching and creating businesses coaching Real Estate Agents. What could be better?
That’s when I started to experience doubt. “But, there are already people doing this, how am I supposed to break in and compete?” One of my first thoughts after having narrowed down my niche was to expand it to not only include Real Estate Professionals, but to also include small business owners and entrepreneurs. After all, I had owned a couple small businesses over the years as well. I knew that audience and could talk to the challenges they experienced as well.
As I began to expand my focus, I soon realized I no longer appealed to anyone because now my focus was too broad and my coaching practice was too general. When I was in the Real Estate industry I had learned that mass appeal equals no appeal. You can’t be everything to everyone. I began thinking about why I was looking for a niche anyway. Specialization gives people a reason to choose you. Specialization builds perceived value.
Sometimes it is hard to understand this when you are thinking about yourself and your profession so when I am working with my clients helping them ﬁgure out their niche I ask them to think about other professions such as the medical or legal ﬁelds. If you look in the yellow pages or on the Internet for an attorney in your area, you are going to look for one that specializes in the area you are looking for such as tax law or family law. When you are looking for a doctor you are going to look for a Cardiologist or a Dermatologist or someone who specializes in the ﬁeld you need help in. Not only do these specialties attract you to them in the ﬁrst place, you are willing to pay more for a Heart Surgeon than you are for a General Practitioner.
Besides being able to charge more, being a specialist is also easier. You know your clients and you can create systems so you can be more effective. My clients that specialize in certain neighborhoods in their real estate business have an easier time when someone calls them to sell their property if they specialize in that area. They know the prices of the houses in the neighborhood, they know the builders and ﬂoor plans of the houses in the area, they know the schools and infrastructure close by, they know other owners and people looking to buy in the area. They know who to market the house to. They know the proﬁle of an ideal buyer for the house before even stepping into the house to meet the sellers.
As a coach who specializes with Real Estate Professionals, I have my coaching systems streamlined to that industry. My intake forms and session update forms talk their language. I have a business planning process I have created and offer to every one of my clients that walks them through the process not in a general business sense, but very industry speciﬁc to Realtors and Real Estate Managers. My plans have evolved and improved over the years with input from clients who are all very similar to each other and therefore all of my client’s beneﬁt. Coaches who specialize are able to streamline their procedures. Group coaches who always coach groups for 90 day periods have set procedures that they are able to perfect over time. Coaches who coach around certain areas such as divorce are able to have a tool box of resources and materials that will beneﬁt all of their clients.
Being a specialist sometimes starts with self-proclamation. However, if you are going to call yourself a specialist, you are going to do the needed research to accurately display that title. For my real estate clients this means researching neighborhoods or types of property. For coaches it may mean reading information, attending Teleclasses, keeping up with trade publications or conferences. Virtual Assistants who want to specialize with coaches attend the same conferences coaches do; they read the same magazines coaches do. They keep up on what is happening in the coaching industry.
If a Realtor calls herself a lakeshore specialist, but does not know anything about the laws and conditions that effect lakeshore property sales, her marketing efforts will fall ﬂat as those who respond to her advertising discover she does not possess the required skills needed to sell lakeshore property and accurately call herself a “Lakeshore Specialist.” If on the other hand, you provide potential clients with information on the lakes in the area and links on your website to provide them with valuable information, long before they become clients, you will earn their trust and you will soon be able to charge higher fees as a specialist instead of a generalist.
How about you, what is your niche? Taking the time to really discover what it is could prove to be a very valuable to your business.