Here’s a Quick Way to Pick a Winning Niche
As a holistic health or functional medicine professional, you have an extensive toolkit to help people in many ways, from nutrition guidance to supplement recommendations to fitness and lifestyle advice.
Your interest and compassion makes you want to help everyone, and you find it hard to turn down anyone who asks for your help.
Problem is, when you try to help everyone—from a middle-aged woman struggling with weight gain to a new mother with an autoimmune disorder to a young boy with food allergies—you spread yourself thin and serve no one well, including yourself. (To read more about why trying to help everyone is a bad business strategy, read this article.)
So how do you narrow down your niche and find your focus?
Here’s a quick, 3-step process:
1. Make a list of what intrigues or excites you.
There’s no point in specializing in a topic that bores you, so start by noticing what gets your juices going. Are you passionate about prenatal nutrition? Fascinated by female hormones? Stimulated by brain health? Fanatical about raw food?
Perhaps, like many in holistic health, you find too many things interesting and feel pulled in ten different directions. Don’t worry about that yet–I’ll show you how to pare down the list in the next two steps. For now, just make a list of all the topics that you feel especially drawn to.
Be sure your list includes only topics that you can envision focusing on for the next 2-3 years without getting bored. Your list might look something like this:
- Prenatal nutrition and fertility
- Women's hormones
- Food allergies
- Autoimmune conditions
- Nutrition for autism
- Diabetes, pre-diabetes and blood sugar control
- Helping people get healthy
- Improving energy
- Mood disorders (anxiety, irritability, mood swings)
- Exercise for weight loss
2. Look at your list and ask, are people actively searching for solutions to these issues?
The best niches are ones where people are actively searching for answers, particularly if there’s emotional pain and urgency. Look at each item on your list and evaluate them to see if this true.
In this example list, there’s one that does not fit the criteria and should be crossed out. Can you guess?
(I’ll pause while you look them over.)
That’s right—“Helping people get healthy” doesn’t work. It’s too vague. How many people google “How do I get healthy” or “getting healthy”? Not very many, and the few who do certainly don’t search with the same emotion and urgency as someone looking up “food allergies” because their kid’s face blew up in a rash after eating strawberries.
Want hard data? Check out Google Trends and enter your search terms to see how they stack up against each other. Here’s a screenshot of the terms “get healthy” (in blue) and “food allergies” (in red) compared:
3. Narrow and refine your choices.
This is the step that almost everyone resists because it feels limiting. But the truth is that the more you narrow your focus, the easier it will be to attract highly motivated clients who want to work with you. When they’re looking for a solution and discover that you work with people exactly like them—people who have the same specific problems or challenges—then you become irresistible. After all, why would they want to work with a generalist when they could work with you, the expert?
So here’s what to do. For each topic on your list, see how you can refine it further.
For example, food allergies might become food allergies in kids. Now you’ve got a highly motivated group of parents to market to. Same with nutrition for ADHD—you might refine it to nutrition for children with ADHD.
Diabetes might become managing Type II Diabetes through diet and exercise. Now you have a clear audience and focus. Mood disorders might become holistic support for depression through diet, exercise and lifestyle.
Now that you’ve refined and narrowed, it’s time to pick one. No hemming and hawing allowed—just do it!
Give yourself a few weeks to let it stew if you must, but if you’re taking longer than that, keep in mind that not deciding—in my experience—is the surest way to hold yourself back and sentence yourself to months and even years of slow growth and frustration.
If you’re having trouble making a decision, notice if any items on the list are issues that people already seek you out for. Is there a pattern?
Ask your friends and family members what they think based on what they know about you. Advice can help you gain clarity, but ultimately, it’s your choice. Go with the one that feels right to you and gets you the most jazzed up.
Above all, don’t stress about it. Your niche will likely morph and shift over time as your business evolves. You’re never stuck and it’s not a binding decision. But it is important that you decide and get going with something if you want your business to be more than just a hobby.