Even if today is the very first day of your brand new coaching business, you can begin establishing credibility. By far, the fastest, most effective way to do this:

•choose a niche
•then, put your whole heart and soul into it.

But how do you choose a niche when you’re just starting?

A niche is comprised of two equally important components: the “who” and the “what.” Your target market, the “who,” defines the people you will serve. Some components of target market: age, gender, income, lifestyle, interests, profession etc. Your specialty, the “what,” defines what you will help them with. Specialty addresses what specific problems keep your target market awake at night and/or what specific aspirations they have. Your most powerful, unique niche will come from deep within you.

Target Market + Specialty = Niche.

To determine your target market

Make a list of more than 25 roles you’ve played or hats you’ve worn: single mother, award-winning ice skater, avid gardener, project manager, breast cancer survivor, business owner, interior designer, foster parent, fund-raiser and the list goes on. Come back to your list two or three times, ask friends to help you flesh it out and brainstorm until you have a very full, juicy list. Then, take off your brainstorming hat and take a break.

Next, with fresh eyes and sharpened intuition, pare your list significantly. Ask yourself for each entry on your list, one at a time, “Would I love coaching this group? Single mothers? Yes or no. Award-winning ice skaters? Yes or no. Project managers? Yes or no.”

Then, look at your shortened list through your marketing lens. For each group on your list, ask yourself, “Do I know where these folks gather? Do I know how to reach them? To what groups do they belong? What websites do they frequent? What publications do they read?” You must be able to answer these questions for a specific group, so that you can market to them.

Once you’ve narrowed your list to the two or three groups you feel the most connected to and excited about and you know where to reach them, then you need to determine your specialty.

To determine your specialty

Interview 10 or 12 people in your potential target markets to find out what keeps them awake at night and/or what aspirations they would love to fulfill. Pay attention to your own excitement and commitment. If you are considering women project managers in large telecom companies and you learn that their most pressing concern involves how to work more hours to keep their jobs and still keep their sanity, notice how you respond to that. Do you rise to the challenge or do you want to run from the scene?

Work with your coach through this part of the niche-choosing process. Make sure you choose to coach people whose problems or dreams you care about. You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to have a passion, an interest and a desire to become an expert in your chosen niche. Allow your coach to illuminate your blind spots so that you feel confident that you’ve left no stone unturned.

Building credibility

Once you’ve chosen a niche, begin serving your new potential clients immediately with a free weekly or monthly tele-gathering or in-person gathering. Choose topics for your gatherings based on what they told you about their most pressing problems and greatest aspirations. Further support them with articles that give them ideas on how to solve those problems or achieve those goals. In your gatherings and in your articles, share your best coaching processes and coaching tools. In your gatherings, offer laser coaching, so that your people get a sense of what it would be like to coach with you. At the end of the gatherings and articles, tell them they can hire you to move through these issues and achieve these goals.

Immerse yourself in your niche. Eagerly learn, generously share and regularly facilitate. Within a few months or seasons, you will begin to see tangible signs of credibility. New clients, invitations to speak at a meeting of your target market, your quote for an article in a national magazine and people telling you that you’ve changed their lives – just to name a few!

Author's Bio: 

Coaching since 1997, Ann Strong is the instigator and leader of the Thriving Coaches Revolution, which supports coaches in beating the odds and thriving during the start-up years of their coaching businesses.

Join Ann on Monday evenings for the free Thriving Coaches telephone roundtable. Visit http://www.thrivingcoaches.com for your personal invitations with all the details.