Who are your ideal coaching clients?
Or do you coach just about anyone who wants coaching?
Do you need a little guidance in carving your own coaching niche?
When I first experienced firsthand how powerful coaching is and learned its basic skills, I thought I could save the world. I felt I could coach everyone and anyone who needed my coaching. I believed my coaching could help solve every problem out there and make a mega difference to the planet.
That was in the beginning days of my coaching journey over four years ago. Did you feel the same way or was it just me?
While I still believe in coaching being useful for everyone at some point, I had realized that I can’t coach everyone with the same effectiveness and passion.
Not every client is the right fix for me. Not everyone can benefit from my coaching. Honestly, there are some clients who could use another coach.
How do I know that? When I have certain clients not taking the coaching relationship seriously, don’t show up with commitment (or don’t show up at all!), and when they don’t play their hearts out to the action plan that we had agreed upon. The energy that they bring to the table don’t match mine.
That is how I would know that the coaching relationship doesn’t work. And I have to take responsibility for that because I did not manage the agreements and selection process well from the start.
I am also aware that new professional coaches need clients. After all, a coach isn’t a real coach without a coaching client, right?
I know as coaches, we need the coaching hours and experience (and the money of course!). At some point, we would inevitably face the constraints of time and energy, maybe a little frustration of not producing enough impact and results. We know we can do so much more as a coach.
And so we have to face this decision: Who can we coach, really? Who are our ideal coaching clients? What’s my niche?
Here are just a few considerations and insights I’ve discovered from my coaching journey so far:
1. Who are my coachees that I really enjoyed coaching?
Who are they? I would take a look at their occupations, industry, age, gender, education background. Those information may or may not matter.
What made the relationship/chemistry worked?
For me, I’ve realized that I enjoyed working with people of a certain mindset. My ideal clients see themselves as someone with immense potential and have a sense that they can do so much more than what they’re doing now. And they are ready and willing to dive in to make a big change for themselves.
I prefer working with owners (of their own life and business), not victims. They value self-responsibility and generally do not blame others for hindering their progress. I’m not saying that victim mindset people can’t be coached, I’m just saying that the ideal coach that will support them isn’t going to be me.
I also enjoy working with open-minded people, who are hungry to learn. They are agile in their learning ability.
Who do you enjoy working together with?
2. What kind of groups/industry do I have a passion for?
Maybe it is in a particular group or organization that I’ve worked with?
Perhaps I am passionate in helping people with a certain cause that resonates with me.
For example, some female coaches are passionate in empowering women to rise above the limiting beliefs that are formed by the society around them. Some have a passion for the mental wellness industry. Some specialized in certain religious organizations.
If I find myself working in an industry I’m not familiar with, I would quickly find out as much as I can, until I discover what move me to work together with them. I would look at their core values, philosophy, mission and vision, have a feel of their culture etc. If I can’t find what move me, perhaps that is not my ideal group to work with.
3. What specialized knowledge and skills do I already have that are useful?
What are the areas that you have built credibility in your previous works?
Your expertise in those areas can serve as an advantage for you as a coach, especially if you have achieved some success. Although not mandatory, your remarkable track record could be the perfect platform to launch your coaching career.
In any case, your knowledge and experiences can help you in understanding the context of your clients’ goals and struggles more intimately, and aid you in co-formulating better strategies with them.
Having said that, your expertise is a double-edged sword. It may hinder you from seeing from a neutral point of view, and influence your judgments of the clients and their situations. These can possibly prevent fresh ideas and new possibilities from surfacing.
It all depends on how you use your expertise and the awareness of your coaching presence.
4. What are the coaching relationships that had produced big results?
At the end of the day, coaching is about helping the clients to achieve or accomplish something that they would not have done so without a coach.
I would take a look at all my coaching cases and asked, what kind of goals or dreams have I helped my clients to achieve? What sort of issues and challenges have I help my clients to overcome? How have I helped my clients to win?
A win could also be in the form of personal transformation that may not be visible to the outside world, but is profoundly experienced by the client himself.
Success is rewarding. Success leave clues. If you have had big success in certain coaching relationships, you would want to do more of those.
Quantity vs Quality (Impact)
There are many other considerations (culture, language, economy etc.) you can think of. The most obvious factor is money. You have to consider the sustainability of your coaching business for the long-term. That is a big topic that warrants a separate post.
“What if I am starting with zero coaching experience?” you may ask.
Start somewhere. Start coaching the people around you. Do some pro-bono coaching to begin with. At some point you would want to focus on clients who value your service. How would you know they value you as a coach? They would pay for your coaching, as simple as that.
You can start being a little selective after coaching more clients, as you begin to have a sense of who your ideal clients would be.
It’s better to work with fewer coaching clients and make a significant impact, than with many clients that go nowhere.
If you find clients whom you can connect deeply and move them, then you won’t be short on clients. Because they will tell others about you.
If you are just anybody’s coach, then you can’t be a powerful coach. You can’t really change lives. Coaching just anyone would ultimately hurt your coaching business more than it helps.
It is not about how many clients you have, it’s about how powerfully you can coach the one right in front of you.
The purpose of carving your niche is not to limit your coaching practice, but to enhance your impact to your clients. Your niche shouldn’t impede but liberate you to work from your sweet spot more of the time.
Of course, there are times when a client doesn’t fit the niche I had imagined and the coaching relationship still turned out to be great. You see, my coaching niche is entirely made up by me and it evolves. I am evolving and growing as a coach and as a human being in my personal journey.
Do I still dream of saving the world through coaching? Of course! I can’t save the whole world all at once, but I can help those that I can deeply connect with, one at a time. And I can work with other coaches and heart-centered workers.
I hope this helps you to begin carving out your coaching niche. I wish you success in your coaching journey.
Feel free to share your thoughts and stories below.