Now, I know a niche is as important as the next marketing/sales/business guru, but there is an order to these things that may well be the difference between driving yourself mad and your sanity (and success).
For me, the 'right' order is Thing first and Niche second.
Here's why: when you choose a niche first (often disguised as 'pick your ideal client') then you're malleable. You can become 'bendy' to people's ideas about what your Thing is and what it needs to be. And it's easily done. Because you want to offer the best 'result' for your niche (or ideal client) so you make your Thing be exactly what they want. But what if it's NOT exactly what they want. Your Thing is your Thing is your Thing. You do your Thing the way you do your Thing (and that's the best way to do it). Only you know what your Thing looks like, and works like, and sounds like, and costs, and is packaged like when it's the BEST version. So this is something you need to work out before you choose a niche or ideal client to take it to.
I see it like a suitcase
Actually (slightly weirdly–but then that's me!), I see it as a small brown, slightly battered (well used!) suitcase like Paddington Bear has which you take with your everywhere–your old fashioned doctor's bag of medicine and apparatus. When you're absolutely clear what's in your Thing bag, you can go on your travels to all the niches you like but the contents of your bag don't change. You might adjust your language slightly (or decorate your bag a little) BUT your Thing is your Thing is your Thing and it's always what's inside.
What happens if you skip the Thing bit?
If you pick your niche first or your ideal clients, you're not spending enough time getting so clear and confident on your Thing you might miss pieces. You'll immediately be 'cross-checking' and referencing your niche as you work out the process or philosophy of your Thing. You'll leave out what might be very important details, or steps, because you can't see how they work for 'this' niche. But your Thing is so much bigger than one niche (even if you finally decide only to take it to one).
My niche has been the same for ages BUT I know I can take my Thing to more (and I have started to). But what is great is now I don't fall into the 'this is how it's done here' trap, and instead I'm VERY clear how my Thing looks–what the steps are, what to include (or not)–and so I'm not distracted by industry expectations and beliefs. After all, if you're going to make a change you need to do something DIFFERENT to what's happening now. Yes, I know, obvious, but you might be being more bendy than you realise!
Get solid first, then travel
When you get super-clear and solid on your Thing–everything about it–then you know you're consistently delivering your brilliant thing and best work everywhere you go. There's no doubt when something is 'right' for you... you're clear where you can (and can't!) help. You get known (well known) for one Thing as you're consistently delivering it, not adapting it, and seemingly changing your Thing every time you find a new market. And re-inventing what you do can be pretty exhausting...
So work out your Thing. Know you can take it where ever you want to. Then travel.
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