You’ve probably heard a thousand times that a niche is really important in building a private practice. Maybe you resisted it. Maybe you wanted to embrace it but couldn’t decide who you wanted to choose. Then you read another thing that harps on the need for a niche. And another. And all the sudden the pressure is mounting and you start to think that if you don’t pick the perfect niche it’s all going to be an awful, terrible shameful shell of a practice.
Take a breath. I got your back.
A niche IS important. If this is your first time hearing this, check out this post and 99% of my podcasts. I’m not going to go on about that because I find it sends people into paralysis when they’re feeling stuck.
First let’s start with the fact that you’re dating your niche (not your clients) NOT marrying it (nor your clients). By this I mean, it could change in 6 months. You aren’t committed to it for a lifetime. There is fluidity and flexibility. Would it be a pain in the ass to change all your website copy and online listings? Absolutely! But it’s not a change you’re likely to make every 6 months.
So if you’re not sure your niche is the marrying type, that’s okay. Try it out, see if it’s fulfilling. If not, see what else feels like a better fit.
Second, forcing insight doesn’t usually work. Many of the people I work with earnestly want to do this right. They know it makes the marketing stuff much easier so they want to know RIGHT NOW. Leaving some wiggle room, inviting insight, and asking ourselves questions is a great place to start but you can’t force it. I mean, you CAN force it all day long but you’re unlikely to yield real results.
Third, do you actually know your niche but think it won’t work or you’re not good enough for it? I see this a lot, too. Some people want to work with high achievers but feel less than. Some want to work with a specific presenting concern but don’t feel like they have enough experience or training (that’s what supervision and CEU’s are for!) Some feel like their niche won’t or can’t pay for their services (this is rarely the truth of the matter.) If you suspect this is the case then please, please, please explore it. Get out your journal. Call a supportive colleague or friend.
Now, would you call yourself decisive?
(If you debated that at all, you’re not.)
This is one of the first questions I ask people when they say they are struggling with the niche issue. People who have a pattern of struggling with decisions tend to struggle with this one, too. They have also usually developed some coping strategies to manage that which may help here. I have told some of the participants in the Abundance Practice-Building Groups to just choose one and stick with it for the 3 months of group. Even if it’s not the exact niche they settle on later, what they learn by applying the marketing lessons they learn in the group translates to whatever niche they claim as “the one” later.
Now, if you are decisive and you can’t choose a niche, you may be freaking out a little. Those of us who are decisive (*raises hand and waves it enthusiastically*) feel pretty anxious sitting with the unknown, especially when it comes to things only we can know. What I see most often is that there’s some perfectionism getting in the way (raises other hand and waves it, too*.) That pressure I mentioned before may be getting to you. And while it may be hard to not force things and let the decision trickle in slowly and on it’s own time (*Stands on chair with crazy jazz hands*), it’s probably the best tact.
Or Decisives and Indecisives alike can try some of my get-out-of-my-head strategies that help me when I find myself in decision-hell. If you’re there, I created a little freebie just for you.
Lead box, link or button under it that says : Your Decision Tool Box
If you’re interested in a deep dive to help identify your niche and ideal client, check out the Abundance Party. I have a course in there all about it. It’s a great precursor to the Marketing Fundamentals course that’s also available in there. For only $39/mo with a 6 month minimum, you get all the info you need to get your phone ringing.
If you want a more personal dive, check out the Abundance Practice-Building Group. The next round starts in January and it’s 3 months of meetings with 7 of your new best friends and yours truly and we go deep on all things practice-building.
Beyond the Cost/Benefit Chart: Tools for Making Decisions Decisives and Indecisives Alike
Does this option feel fear based or expansive?
Get two different colored pens and write down a question in one color, write the answer in another color and keep going back and forth.
Say each option aloud and see how your body reacts to it. Do you feel relaxed or relieved at the idea? Does one option make you tense a little?
Get clear on your why and run each niche or business option you have through the why and find out what feels right. Be real and don’t edit yourself like someone’s watching or reading over your shoulder.
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.