Small business owners and solo-preneurs often find themselves riding the Feast or Famine Roller Coaster. If you have been on this roller coaster yourself and would like to experience another ride in the Entrepreneurial Amusement Park, then I might suggest taking a ride on the Soul Train to Success! But first, you have to get off the Feast or Famine Roller Coaster.
I love working with entrepreneurs because (for the most part) they love what they do-their work feeds their soul. Therefore, for the sake of this article, I am going to assume that you love what you do and that you have a talent or skill for the service you provide.
If you’ve been perplexed over how to create a steady stream of happy, loyal customers, I’d like you to consider these two common mistakes and see if you recognize them in your own business.
Mistake Number One: not having a specific target market with a signature system-what you are an expert at-to serve that market.
Tip: This is NOT a niche! A niche is the “what” you do, whereas, the market is the “who” you do it with, to or for.
We can take that one step further and add the “How” to the “What” and the “Who”. How do you service those clients? I will use my own business as an example:
o Niche (what)- Business Coach (There are thousands of business coaches in the world.)
o Market or Perfect Client (who)- the heart-centered, soulful service provider or soul-o-preneur
o Signature System (how)- through equine assisted coaching and Branding with Archetypes(TM)
A viable market is a group of people who have a need or problem that they want to solve and who are willing to invest in having that need or problem solved! “Willing to invest” is the key phrase here.
I want to offer one more example of niche vs. market, based on a business other than coaching.
Let’s have a conversation with a yoga instructor (YI) and a marathon runner (MR) at a sports and fitness training convention.
First scenario: yoga instructor without a target market
MR: What do you do for a living?
YI: I’m a yoga instructor. You should try one of my classes; it will change your life.
MR: Oh, yeah, I tried yoga a couple of times but I just couldn’t get into it. It’s too slow for me. I’m a runner and blah, blah, blah…
Second scenario: yoga instructor with a target market
MR: What do you do for a living?
YI: I teach performance athletes how to beat their own records by incorporating anusara yoga into their training practice.
MR: Really? How do you do that? I’m a marathon runner and have a goal to slice 16 minutes off my next race!
o Niche (what) -anusara yoga instructor (a particular form of yoga practice)
o Market or Perfect Client (who) -performance athletes (willing to invest in having a problem solved)
o Signature System (how) -combines a specific style of yoga (anusara) with the athlete’s training to achieve a measurable result
I can just hear you saying “Yeah, but I can also teach, massage, photograph, design for, coach, bake, clean, consult-WHATEVER for anybody else who will pay me to do that thing!”
My response would be, “How is that working out for you so far?”
Take some time today to think about your own professional service and see if you can identify your own niche and perfect client.
Mistake Number Two: trying to sell what you do instead of what people want.
The first example with the yoga instructor and the marathon runner is a perfect illustration of the yoga instructor trying to sell what she does to the runner. He is not interested because he has a preconceived idea about yoga.
The second example is the yoga instructor speaking a very specific language that the runner is already listening for. He specifically hears the words, “I teach performance athletes how to beat their own records…” what comes after that is secondary. At this point in the conversation, the yoga instructor has the runner’s undivided attention.
Once you have identified your perfect clientele, you need to find out what it is that they want or need to have solved and are willing to invest in the solution with you.
Pick a specific group of people that need or want a specific service. Think about the people that you personally want to serve, think about where the people you want to serve already spend their time.
For Example: Massage Therapist
Pregnant Mothers: baby clothing stores, Gymboree, OBGYN office, birthing class, etc…
Triathletes: events, orthopedic clinics, running stores, cycle shops, fitness centers, etc…
Active Seniors: retirement communities, dance centers, churches, 50+magazines, etc…
Take the time to discover their needs and speak to the results they are looking for in all of your literature, branding and web copy. When you thoroughly understand a specific group of people’s needs and show them a solution or offer relief, you automatically become an expert in that area. They become loyal clients and refer you to their friends who have similar needs and wants.
Ask yourself how you may be able to focus your talents on a specific group of people that need your service. Choose a group that you have an affinity for and would like to spend time with. This approach does not mean you will not ever work with other groups of people in other ways, it does mean that you will build a steady stream of loyal clients who trust that you are looking out for their best interest.
Become an Expert
Not choosing a specific area of expertise to work in waters down your talents and credibility. When you focus on a specific need that people want solved, then you also grow your own skills and knowledge base in that area.
You would not go to a heart surgeon if you had a sinus infection, even though he could surely prescribe the antibiotic you need.
All successful business owners: work in a specific area of expertise; work with a mentor or coach to keep them moving forward and in alignment with their own values and purpose; and don’t do it ALL by themselves.
When you are in alignment with what you love to do and can work with a group of people that need what you have to offer and are willing to invest in having that need solved, then you are riding the soul train to success!
Become the professional you want to be and get the professional help you need to get you there.