When I got started running my own business, every book and course I ever took told me that I needed to focus down to one niche that I wanted to serve.
As a highly enthusiastic social butterfly I found this advice really limiting. Despite hearing it over and over again, every time I tried to pick a niche it felt incredibly manufactured. So I just kept writing what I wanted to write and teaching what I wanted to teach. And somehow the right people found me.
I get asked all the time if you have to have a specific, narrowed niche in order to be successful in business. And I always answer with my own story: from 2010 when I started my website to the beginning of 2017, I had no niche.
I had over 45,000 on my email list, tens of thousands of social media followers, thousands of students, a high-six-figure business, a best-selling book, and more, but I did not have a niche.
Then at the end of 2016, it suddenly became clear who I wanted to serve on a much more specific, focused level. Crystal clear, in fact.
I wanted to speak specifically to mothers who were also entrepreneurs.
That doesn’t mean we turn people away from our programs who don’t fit that description, but I’m very clear about who I’m making things for and who I’m talking to.
As a result, we added $400K to our revenue last year, our list grew by 20K people, and our social media following grew quite a bit, too.
But what’s important to know is the following:
- I didn’t choose a niche just to have a niche. I didn’t force it. I waited until it organically appeared.
- We created a wildly successful business without a clear niche that grew, profited, and helped thousands of people for 7 years before the niche became clear.
- I still get nervous that we’re going to lose community members and customers because of my focus on entrepreneurial mothers. But every time I get nervous, I remember how focus is a sacred practice, and I know I’m doing the right thing for right now.
- I reserve the right to change the kind of customer I’m focused on at any time in the future if this niche no longer feels true to me.
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So my answer when people ask me if they need a niche is no. And yes. And it depends.
It depends on how long you’ve been in business.
It depends on if you’re already super clear about who and what you want to focus on or if you feel like you’re grasping.
What will save you tons of time and energy, though, is any kind of clarity you can get around who you’re speaking to in your messaging, your marketing, and your offerings.
Knowing whether your primary customers are men or women.
Knowing whether they’re entrepreneurs or employees or stay-at-home parents.
Knowing if they’re into wellness.
Knowing if they’re spiritual.
Knowing what they love, what they believe, and who they resonate with.
These are all incredibly helpful things to identify because when you know who you’re talking to, it takes way less energy to craft what it is you’re saying.
(Feeling lost when it comes to knowing who you serve, how you serve them, and what your business model is? My friend Marie Forleo just released the second video of her 3-part series about growing a successful online business, and in it you’ll get 3 questions to answer to get instant clarity to grow your business. Plus, you’ll get 13 keys to creating a successful online business. Grab the free video training and accompanying checklist here.)
The truth is, though, sometimes in business it takes as long as it takes. So while I encourage you to do your best to get clear on who you serve and how you serve them, don’t let answering those questions prevent you from taking action in getting out there and doing your thing!
If you know what you want to offer but aren’t yet sure who it’s for, start offering it and you’ll find out by process of elimination.
If you know you’re called to work with people in a certain way, give it a go and you’ll refine your process over time.
The key is to get into action and trust that clarity will emerge.
What I know for sure is the following:
- Focus is sacred and powerful. The more focused you are in business, the less energy and other resources you waste and the more magnetic you become.
- If that focus takes the form of an authentic niche, go with it.
- If you’re trying to force your niche, relax and let it come to you in its own time.
We’ve had success without a specific niche (though I always had in mind who I was talking to, more or less), and we’ve had success with a specific niche.
What matters is the clarity of your purpose, how clear you are with your customer about what they’re going to get, and how aligned you feel with your message and your offerings.
At the end of the day, authenticity matters more than having a clear niche.
Both are optimal, but if you’ve got to pick one, go with authenticity.
People will smell a manufactured “target market” a mile away – and they’ll stay away.
But if your heart and actions are aligned, they’ll flock toward you, and over time your focus will emerge.
Start with what’s in your heart, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and eventually it will all make sense. I promise.
OVER TO YOU:
Do you have a niche? If so, what is it? Did you know what it was from day one, or did it take a while to emerge? Tell me in the comments!