Marianne’s getting ready to pivot from a corporate job to a business. She’s got a degree in social work as well as business training. She’s been a recruiter for a large CPA firm and she’s also worked with an Employee Assistance Program as a stress counselor. She knows exactly how to help someone get a job with a CPA firm, as well as how to help accountants move from CPA firms to the corporate profit sector or self-employment.
So, she thinks, why not coach accountants on job and career change?
But then she wonders: “Is this niche too narrow? Maybe I should offer career change for professionals in general. And perhaps I should emphasize my stress management background on my website?”
Marianne probably thinks she can get an easy answer. And many people would answer without hesitation: “Go with the smaller niche and focus.”
But Marianne’s got to do some testing first.
How do accountants find a career coach? Do they use career coaches? If Marianne googles “career coach accounting” and finds that she’ll have some competition, which is a good sign. She can look into their websites and see what keywords they’re using.
When accountants search for a career coach, do they prefer to work with an accounting specialist? If they like the “accountants-only” approach, she’ll need to include at least a separate page on her website.
Will she have access to accountants so she can market her services? Will she get entrance into networking meetings? For instance, can she be a guest at a local CPA lunch meeting? If she’s just getting started, she’ll need to network and line up a few clients before starting her website.
Does she know a few accountants who will be her first clients? A few good testimonials will help a great deal.
Can she fill up a blog with solid, innovative articles on “career change for accountants?” Will these posts go beyond the usual same-old, same-old advice and give readers an “aha” moment with every post (well, almost every post – it’s hard to knock it out of the park 100% of the time)?
How will accountants respond to her as a career coach? Will they appreciate her background or be a little nervous about it? If she mentions stress release, will they think, “Uh oh … too shrinky for me!” or, “Oh good: she understands how tough this field is.”
If Marianne decides she’s got access to accountants, and if she finds that many accountants are willing to pay for career coaching, I’d encourage her to set up a website for accountants.
Even if her website targets accountants, she’ll find that other professionals will show up and she can decide how narrow her niche will be. Just about every coach who targets women will get male clients.
For instance, on my career site I target midlife, mid-career executives, yet I’ve gotten clients who are more millennial than midlife. I draw the line at working with someone who’s just graduated: I don’t know how to help a brand-new entry level 21-year-old.
The real question for any new coach is, “How can I get my first client?” If your first few clients come from a narrow niche, then go for it. Otherwise you may have to cast a wider net. You won’t target “everybody out there,” but you can avoid limiting your scope.
Some new coaches have a natural pipeline to new clients. For instance, my fitness trainer would do well as a life coach or nutrition coach; half his clients already talk about their lives, careers and relationships, and nearly all of them (including me) end up modifying their diets in some way. But a teacher or corporate executive might not have a natural bridge to a new stream of clients.
This post is based on my QuickStart Guide To Becoming A Coach. It’s a comprehensive ebook with soup-to-nuts, hold-you-by-the-hand guidance on everything from choosing a niche to building a website. You’ll get a sample coaching agreement and a template to send colleagues to generate referrals.
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