Hey Entrepreneur, 3 Strategies to Pick (Your Niche, Platform, & Path) When You Truly Don’t Know
Tell me if this resonates: You decided to start a business and market your services and then faced an overwhelming amount of choices about where to be, how to show up, and what to promise.
- Niche down, they said.
- Choose one platform, they said.
- Don’t sell a product; sell results, they said.
- Don’t sell a service; sell a transformation, they said.
But you were just starting, and your head was spinning, and you wondered should I know this stuff? Should I have figured it out before I started my business? If I don’t know, does that mean I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur?
What Happened Next?
Are you the one who freezes when scared, who drops into overwhelming doubt, imposter syndrome, and a shame spiral?
Or is getting super busy doing something else, opening 29 tabs on your computer, googling everything, making a list while listening to a webinar more your style?
I’m not here to tell you that you don’t need to know your niche, platform, and path, but I am here to tell you that you don’t need to know straight out the gate.
You have time, and it’s a process.
You can experiment to get more clarity, and this is how.
Step 1: Dabble Purposefully
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”
— Tony Robbins
Dabbling gets a bad wrap, but that’s how we try something on for size; it’s how we sample. So Tony is correct; if we dabble our way through life, it’s hard to break through and be successful, but success isn’t a Day 1, Year 1 goal. A Day 1, Year 1 goal is to figure out your niche, pick your platform, and make a plan.
Dabbling is not necessarily linear, so it can feel a little like wandering unless we add data and intention. Let’s say we want to sell our marketing expertise. Dabbling will help us discover who we want to work with, how we want to work, and the results we can create.
You may have an idea, you likely have proven expertise, but to get to that ideal place where you are at your best, doing the thing you want to be known for, for your dream clients, you may have to dabble a bit, so set boundaries.
Dabbling to refine a methodology or audience is intentional and measurable. Dabbling because you are afraid to commit or don’t want to limit yourself to one thing is counterproductive.
Step 2: Apply Pressure
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
When my clients have a decision to make that they keep putting off, we evaluate if she has all the information she needs to decide. If the answer is yes, then we set a deadline.
If she blows the deadline or continues to hedge and second-guess her choices, someone else (not me, a trusted friend, spouse, parent, or partner) gets to decide.
Often, knowing that someone else gets to pick, puts said client into a panic because what if they choose wrong?! There’s no wrong answer unless there’s a right answer, and there’s no right answer unless you know. Therefore, you know, so choose.
Or, live with what someone else chooses for you. Sometimes that pressure is enough for them to blurt out their choice. Sometimes not.
For the sometimes not crowd, when the decision is made, my client exhales, is relieved that the decision is over, and realizes that’s what she wanted anyway. But sometimes, it prompts a new panic because that’s not what she wanted. Either way, clarity comes.
The same is true for choosing your niche — clarity comes from deciding. And while it’s true you can do many things, are multi-talented and multi-passionate, if you can’t say what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it, your audience will move on.
Imagine going to the salon and asking for side-swept bangs and asking the stylist if she can pull it off, and she says something like, it’s one of the things I do. Is that particularly reassuring? Does it make you want to proceed? Does it convince you she’s the one?
You might not have even considered your regular stylist. Maybe you googled side-swept bangs and started there. Pro Tip: If your niche isn’t google-able, it may not be a niche.
If your block is thinking you’ll exclude some of your potential audience by getting ultra-specific, you can get past it by building such a greedy hungry audience that wants what you have that you don’t have time to notice anyone who isn’t standing in line waiting for your offer.
Step 3: Get Obsessed
“Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness.”
— Michel de Montaigne
First, in the early stages of your business, you’ll pick a platform, you’ll choose a niche, and you’ll make a plan…and then it will go to sh*t. Something will fail, you’ll hit a wall, you’ll struggle to gain meaningful traction, you’ll want to pivot, something.
At that point, you can decide if you need to reevaluate or level up. Sometimes, instead of questioning what went wrong, you simply need to get obsessed with making it work.
Think of it this way. In school, you learn through a combination of textbooks, flashcards, and story problems. There’s an underlying assumption that there’s a correct answer to every question. You study the materials, then take the test.
You don’t go into a test thinking this question isn’t for me; it doesn’t work for my industry or can’t be applied to my strengths. The answer is the answer is the answer.
We need that level of certainty in our business. If the platform you pick is Medium, then learn everything you can. You don’t have to know it all or understand the algorithm, but you need to know how to make it work to accomplish your objectives.
Likewise, when defining your path, the first step is to be absolutely convinced that it’s going to work for you. Then, it’s only a matter of getting onboard. Think moving sidewalks — Once you step on, you expect to go where it’s leading.
Later in your journey, get obsessed with what you know. When you have some degree of mastery in your subject, you’ve worked with many clients, and you know you can deliver on the transformation you promise, then it’s time to act like a librarian.
A librarian has an answer for everything, a million books, a billion frameworks, and a zillion solutions. Yet, she also has a means of accessing the right information for the occasion.
If you don’t have a system for storing, sorting, and optimizing your information, if you don’t know how to turn your knowledge into a purchasable, repeatable, scalable product or service, you’ll never move past the first stage of your business.
1:1 work is essential at first because you’ve got to know your process inside and out, you’ve got to see client after client respond to it in real-time, but then, when you are ready to break free of the time = money equation, you’ve got to know how to capitalize.
The goal is to curate your knowledge and assemble it in the proper steps to build a blueprint so that your clients can get the results as fast as possible.
Your audience will be overwhelmed and look elsewhere if your process includes dumping all the contents of your brain on the table. If your customers have to sift through your information to apply it, it’s way less valuable to them.
The big bucks come from the simplicity of optimized information. When you share your expertise so that your audience knows exactly what to do with it, you’ve nailed it.