To Niche or not to niche? This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions I get when talking to new or emerging entrepreneurs.

Most entrepreneurs want to cast a wide net and reach as many people as possible, especially when starting out because they fear limiting themselves to just one group will be too restrictive and prevent them from making the kind of money and impact they desire.

When I first started out in business I wanted to help as many people as I could. I deliberately chose NOT to niche myself for an entire year because I wanted to see what truly lit me up. I coached my clients around relationships, transition, business, career, leadership, parenting, grief/loss, health, money, LGBT and I may or may not have even coached someone around their pet problems.

While I don’t necessarily recommend this for everyone, it certainly was a great learning experience.

Instead of sharing all of the reasons why you should niche your business, here are the top 5 things I learned from NOT having a specific niche for the first 12 months of my business:

As I started to take on more general life coaching clients, I began to notice certain topics that I confidently, passionately and knowledgeably coached best around– and those that drained me and left me feeling unfulfilled. It wasn’t until people started finding me in my business and seeking my support around starting or growing their businesses that I realized THIS was my place…. and why didn’t I think of it before? Entrepreneurship runs in my blood (hello, running businesses since I was 18 years old over here) It didn’t take me long to realize that what I’m MOST passionate, confident and motivated about helping people with is teaching them how to ignite their inner leaders and step into their greatness to start and grow a SUSTAINABLE business they love! Once I got clear on this, everything shifted for me.

Channeling a little Dr. Seuss here

Interestingly enough as I began to recognize and lean into my strengths & passion I also started to narrow in on the kinds of clients/people that were RIGHT for ME and my coaching process and those that I knew wholeheartedly would NOT benefit from my services/style/model of coaching and teaching. This was so empowering because it really allowed me to show up authentically, knowing that the right people would find me. At the end of the day, these are the only people I really want to work with anyway because these are the ones that will actually do the work, make the difference and see the results in their business and life. It made it so much easier for me to conduct discovery calls and engage with people because it was no longer about me needing anyone I could get as client but rather working with people that truly aligned with my values…which made the coach-client relationship so much richer, fun and rewarding!

This piece came the hard way. I remember feeling so unsure of myself as a business person when I went to networking events or even tried to have sales conversations because I was lacking clarity and focus on my niche. The lack of confidence showed up in the way I was articulating, or rather, not articulating my expertise and i’m sure is responsible for me missing out on some great opportunities as well as some potential clients because I was confusing my audience when I spoke. I learned the hard way that if you cannot communicate exactly WHAT you do, and I don’t just mean coaching (or whatever it is that you do), HOW you do it and WHO you do it for, you’re just running an expensive hobby.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from not niching myself was the importance of knowing how to effectively reach and connect with your market. Knowing where your ideal clients “hang out” and where to find them is just going to get you in the door, what’s going to help them convert into paying, loyal clients is the way in which you create connections with them. This requires knowing their psychographics, what influences their buying decisions, their core desires and the fears & frustrations that they can’t seem to overcome on their own that YOU can help them solve. This knowledge allows you to speak in their language, empathize, support and lead them in an authentic way that truly resonates with them. Mastering this was the true turning point in my business that not only increased my conversion rates, but also the depth of which I was able to engage & connect with my market.

After almost a year of not niching my business, coaching as many clients with as many different challenges, lots of trial and error and having a few facepalm moments, I realized that casting a wide net and trying to serve EVERYONE was too much of “big” way of thinking and in actuality it kept me SMALL… as a result my marketing was diluted, my energy was dispersed and my audience was disconnected. This made everything feel so much harder than it needed to be. I took the experience and insights I gained, reflected upon them and powerfully decided on a niche… but not just any niche, one that aligned with my values and vision, my strengths and skills, my passions and purpose and confidently re-branded myself in a way that truly excites me and the people I work with.

I do believe that a purpose can be found in everything and If I hadn’t gone through my first year in business without a niche I may not have been where I am today, but I also believe in shortening your learning curve when possible, not always reinventing the wheel and working smarter not harder. Niching your business (in the right way) creates this for you and allows you to build a sustainable business creates the kind of impact and income you desire.