Paula is a leading business development coach for lawyers, entrepreneurs and service providers, and an award-winning author and speaker.
One of the most important things that any professional or business owner can do from a marketing and business development perspective is to narrow their focus to a specific niche. Most professionals have been told that this is important. You’ve probably seen plenty of examples of others who have done this. I’ve written about how to find your niche. Still, when I have this conversation with professionals—whether it’s part of a group presentation or one-to-one coaching—I get a lot of resistance.
I get it. I know that it can feel scary. But narrowing your focus into a specific niche is one of the most powerful business development strategies, so I want to give you some reassurance that choosing a niche could be very beneficial for your business and your career.
First, I want to share a quick story: One of my longtime coaching clients has developed a very focused niche with a very specific type of law. It’s a global practice and she’s spent years building a global reputation as the go-to expert in that niche. A few weeks back, she told me about a great new client she had just begun working with. It turns out that the client had a very specific legal need and he had sent an email blast to a listserv for a recommendation of an attorney who could help. Every single response from the listserv told him that she was the attorney to speak with—what a powerful endorsement! Not surprisingly, my client was the only attorney he called.
My client has spent years building her reputation as the go-to authority in this specific area of law, and it’s allowed her to attract the specific types of clients whom she likes to work with, attract work that she enjoys doing and build a thriving legal practice as a result. All because she focused on a niche and made herself into the biggest fish in the pond.
So why doesn’t everybody do this? The number-one reason that most people I speak to are reluctant to narrow their focus to a specific niche is because it’s scary to think about “losing out” on everyone else who doesn’t fit the niche. Choosing a niche can sometimes feel like you’re drastically limiting your options and limiting your growth. But here’s what you need to understand: Choosing a niche doesn’t mean you have to say “no” to potential clients who fall outside the niche. If a potential client comes to you and wants to engage your services, even though they’re not in your niche, you can still choose to work with them. Choosing a niche is more about focusing your marketing efforts on the clients you want to attract but that doesn’t mean you can’t say yes to other opportunities.
For many years I focused my coaching practice exclusively on solo lawyers. All of my marketing, my advertising and my business development was focused on solo lawyers. And solo lawyers do make up a majority of my practice, but I still work with many other types of professionals. I work with marketers, financial professionals, retailers, consultants, other coaches and more. Choosing my niche did not prevent me from taking other opportunities. But it did help me laser-focus my marketing efforts and build a thriving practice working with clients whom I love to work with. It was one of the best career decisions I ever made, and it could be one of the best decisions you ever make, too. Don’t let fear hold you back—it’s time to find your niche!