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How to Discover Your Coaching Niche

Posted by Anna-Marie Watson, PCC | February 24, 2020 | Comments (7)

Having completed a significant amount of coach training and surmounted my initial hurdle to call myself a coach the next challenge loomed on the horizon. I vividly remember the conversational ebb and flow with a fellow coach grinding to a sudden halt with the question: “What’s your coaching niche?”

Words failed me and I was utterly flummoxed.

Looking back through the golden glasses of hindsight, there was no Eureka moment or flash of inspiration when I eventually realized my niche: taking coaching conversations outdoors.

Be Willing to Adapt

Working on the analogy of a picture paints a thousand words. My initial foray into coaching is clearly reflected in the original photos captured for my website that reflect what type of coach I believed I was at that time, as I contemplated two mainstream options:

  1. Leadership Coach: After nine years as a British Army officer, the leadership route was an obvious choice, and I had several former military colleagues who worked successfully within this field.
  2. Business Coach: My interpretation of this entity centers on business strategy, corporate plans, goals and hitting KPIs. I’m drawn to the people at the heart of a business and their motivators, behavior, relationships and communication, so I was in the process of discounting this idea.

Fast-forward four years, and the images shot for my new website look considerably different and reflect incremental changes as I’ve developed my style, brand and approach. Gone is the smart yet bland corporate uniform I initially favored, yet simultaneously stifled my creativity and authentic self.  It was only once I had the courage and confidence to move beyond my own perceptions and assumptions of the corporate world that I was able to truly find my coaching niche.

Anna-Marie Watson in business dress     Anna-Marie Watson posed outside      Anna-Marie Watson outside scene

Take Your Time

“You discover your niche; you don’t choose it” —Tad Hargrave

My key learning from this process is that sometimes these decisions take time to unravel and reveal themselves; there is no need to rush.

Over time, I began to research and uncover wider scientific research that strongly indicates the positive correlation of physical and mental benefits with the integration of movement and nature within daily routine. Evidence from a variety of cross-disciplines—physiological, psychological, neurological, aerobic, cognitive, cardio—caught my attention, though it’s my intuitive personal connection to the outdoor space that really struck a chord.

The power of hindsight unearthed endless memories strung over 40 years that reinforces this genuine passion. Even as a newly commissioned 20-nothing-year-old Second Lieutenant in the British Army, with limited life experience, I loved taking work-based conversations with members of my Logistics Troop outside, even if it was just onto the vehicle park. Listening and asking questions in an outdoor setting formed the basis of my leadership skills to support older, worldlier soldiers who faced a raft of family, career, alcohol and drug challenges.

Bring Value

Once the seemingly disparate dots joined up, everything made perfect sense. Taking coaching conversations outdoors combine the forces of movement and nature. Coupled with my own qualifications and experience, it injected a special dynamic and energy into my coaching. The outdoors became my natural coaching realm and has unintentionally become a fantastic unique selling proposition (USP) that’s been a successful differentiator in my business development.  One of my clients, Naomi Copping, who is the head of HR at National Composites Centre in Bristol, best sums up the value it brings to her:

“The opportunity to get out of the office environment and increase the focus on the coaching conversation whilst reducing the intensity of a face to face conversation! It was also a different approach that stood out from the other coaches ‘on the list’.”

Next Steps

Discovering your coaching niche is an ongoing journey, which you’ll refine and develop even further as you gain more experience and skills. Be open and confident to change. It will be a constant companion as your business grows to serve your clients. It can be helpful to seek feedback from your current clients to gain insight into your unique offering and identify key themes. Sometimes we’re blind to our strengths and fail to recognize our special powers that we bring to our coaching practice.

Make sure you’re able whole-heartedly dedicate time to reflect on your findings when and where you’re feeling creative, energized and resourceful. This might involve scheduling time, planning a work retreat or brainstorming ideas with a colleague or peer coach. Finding your niche doesn’t have to be a solo venture!

Ask yourself:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What do I love doing?
  • What am I specifically drawn towards?
  • What feels natural?

Most importantly have fun and enjoy experimenting with different ideas in your hunt for your perfect niche!

anna-marie watson headshot 2019

Anna-Marie Watson, PCC

Anna-Marie Watson, PCC, is a certified Performance Coach with a serious passion for the outdoors who loves to accompany her clients on walking and talking coaching conversations. Former British Army Officer, she has worked in challenging environments from snowy Arctic tundra to hot and sandy deserts. She has been at the forefront of leadership development for over 18 years, supporting high-performing individuals and teams across five continents. She has an insatiable curiosity at the world and is a self-certified learning junkie with an array of qualifications. Anna-Marie is on a mission to encourage fellow coaches take their coaching practice outdoors across the world.  Learn more at Reach for More Coaching.  

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (7)

  1. Robin LaGrow says:

    I absolutely love this! It’s easy to call yourself a life coach based on your training and experience but when deciding how to truly market yourself, that’s a different story. We each need to know who it is we’re hoping to empower and how to go about marketing that. Thanks for your insight and genuineness!

    Robin LaGrow

  2. Edgardo Cenci says:

    Leí tema interesante que me recuerda a una frase de una empresa de auditoría
    Sin pasión no hay Gloria

  3. dthuku@leadership-presence.net says:

    I fully relate with this and I love that quote by Tad Hargrave “You discover your niche; Yo don’t choose it”.

    How tempting it is to initially choose what you think is your niche only to discover that, actually, it is not the niche you end up serving and enjoying doing so.

    I am seeing this unfolding for me right in front of my eyes.

  4. This is great!! As someone new to coaching, I am currently on the struggle bus of what my particular niche is. I started down one path which was my background and familiar (women in sports) but then the Universe put some other things in front of me that are intriguing. Now letting things sit for a little while as I want to explore my options of the niche before drilling down too specifically. An exciting time!

  5. Shirley says:

    Anna-Marie , what an inspiring story you share, and the struggle in finding ones niche is not to be underestimated! Love your creativity…… in corporate spaces, one does loose touch with nature.

  6. Shirley Freemantle says:

    Anna-Marie , what an inspiring story you share, and the struggle in finding ones niche is not to be underestimated! Love your creativity…… in corporate spaces, one does loose touch with nature.

  7. Anna Marie – I rarely reply to posts, but this one hit me in the bullseye. I, too, had a career in business and then made the pivot to executive coaching later in life. I’m all in now. Former CEO turned coach. My brand has been on auto-play and still evolving. I am reminded of a key phrase from one of my former Chief Marketing Officers… “narrow your focus to broaden your appeal”. I wonder how the COVID-19 will impact our brands as we evolve still further?

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