This article is derived from excerpts from the book
“Getting Business to Come to You” by Paul and Sara Edwards,
the Self Employment Experts.
Many people who become self-employed proudly define themselves as being one in a million. What you need to consider doing is letting the world know why you are one in a million. If you want to have plenty of work coming to you, you need to become known for what makes you stand out from the crowd. Hence, selecting your niche specialty will help you grow your business.
Once you identify and begin emphasizing the things that can make you notable, you’ll instantly become more memorable. You’ll begin attracting the clients who are most likely to be satisfied with your work, the ones who will become your most loyal customers and your best referral sources.
“When Sarah began practicing psychotherapy, she was dismayed to discover the large number of other counselors and therapists in her community. Not only were there hundreds of psychotherapists, clinical social workers, marriage and family counselors all seeking clients to serve, many of them were also using the very same psychological techniques and modalities used by Sarah. What was she to do? How was she ever going to compete with all the other therapists?”
At the time, there were no other Transactional Analysis/Gestalt therapists in her community working with children. Sarah had seven years of experience working with child-development programs and she had a young son at home whom she had begun teaching to use Transactional Analysis concepts to understand his behavior and her family interactions.
“From the moment that I made the decision to specialize, suddenly I no longer had any competition. Instead I had a slew of referral sources. The very therapists who had been my competitors were glad to know there was someone available to see the children of their clients who needed treatment. I could now be their colleague and they could refer children of clients to me. And, that’s precisely how I built my practice.”
We all have a variety of multifaceted interests, talents, and skills. We don’t want to be limited to doing the same thing with the same people over and over again day after day. We want to have varied and novel experiences. But just because you establish a niche doesn’t mean you can’t do a variety of things or serve different types of people. In fact, by the very act of specializing, we make ourselves more valuable and appealing to people in general and thus we’re able to do more interesting and varied things.
Counseling Washington is a firm believer in the concept of niche specialties. We also realize that most of our membership has more than one area of specialty they may wish to promote over time. For these reasons you will be asked to choose your niche specialty as a part of your counselor profile. You will also be asked to indicate additional areas of concern your practice addresses. Your counselor profile should not remain static on our website any more than your practice remains static in your life.
Start by asking yourself what areas you have the most training and experience in. The person new to the counseling field might have had practicum experience or may have worked in an agency that offered experience with many clients with the same basic problem. Consider past college classes and continued education courses (that Licensed Associates have to take anyway while under supervision). Chose a direction and find continuing education courses that will continue to develop your skills in that niche area.
Often people resist niching because they’re afraid to commit to one course of action. As a woman once said, “I want to be able to roll with the punches. If I settle in on a niche, it may be the wrong choice. I may decide later I want to do something else.” Being able to roll with the punches is, indeed, most important in this age of rapid change. But again, paradoxically, you can usually move more swiftly and effectively by taking a stand about who you are and what you do than you can as someone who’s an undefined and unknown member of a general pool of people who do something similar.
No matter what niche you choose, chances are you’ll need to evolve what you do over time in response to the changing needs of your clients, social and economic trends, and your own personal development. In fact, we’ve found that most niches have a life cycle, starting at some point in a field and evolving to another as the field itself evolves. The Internet is a dynamic, ever-changing, wealth of information in our world. As you consider what specialty to select bear in mind that times change as should your information online and even your specialty. Consider your practice now. What areas of specialty are you wishing you had more clients, which areas are you currently maxed? Over time you can change your niche to start attracting more clients in the areas you really want. Use the power of dynamic information to your advantage and update your listing as you need to round out your practice.