Business Planning

Every BUSINESS has a Niche

Yesterday, Naomi Dunford of, posted a lovely blurb about the necessity of developing a niche for your business. She even said the smaller the niche the better.

Her post makes me feel good. I’m not the only oddball promoting specialty niche as the key to a successful business.

But that is the key….a business has a niche, a hobby is something you do because you like it and making money doing it is a nice bonus.

Lots of therapists fall into the “hobby” category. They want to do what THEY want and get frustrated that people don’t want to pay them for it.

The thing is, clients will pay you for what they want and perceive they need. Successful businesses seek out a problem to solve and get paid to offer a solution or to minimize a pain.

It’s not about you. You could go to school for 20 years and have 19 fancy letters after your name, but at the end of the day no one cares unless you are clearly offering a solution to their problem.
Now back to niche.

I”m going to be straight up honest here. I see a number of “marketing for therapists gurus” out there you can have cake and eat it. They sling around market-y crap like, “You don’t need a niche, just follow your passions. You don’t have to specialize, use the law of attraction to guide your practice growth.”

Gag. These people are telling you what you want to hear, not the reality of building a solid practice. I won’t manipulate you into buying my stuff by placating you and lulling you into a sense that you don’t need to take your skills and business seriously.

You are either building a business or you’re not. If you don’t want to go through the efforts of specializing, offering top notch service and marketing it, don’t even bother going through the motions. Building a business is not complicated, but it requires work and compromise and meeting well defined needs.

As a profession, we need to get over ourselves and our desire to impress people with our education, credentials and “mindfulness” and kick it into gear and build some amazing businesses that help real people with real problems.

YOUR Niche

I can see from the comments here on my blog, many of you are stuck in the process of defining a niche. This can be difficult when you are not accustomed to think of your practice as a business.

A few niche tips

  • If you think your niche is too broad it probably is.
  • Any specialty that includes the phrase “men, women, children, couples….” is not a niche AT ALL. This is my biggest pet peeve. You need to know this now. Anyone who has the phrase, “men, women, children and couples” in their marketing materials needs to make some changes.

As Naomi says,
“If you pick a niche, you lose some customers. If you don’t pick a niche, you lose ALL customers”.

  • Focusing on 2 (or more) distinct diagnoses automatically makes you a generalist. For example, working with women on issues of stress and people in recovery from substance abuse is not a niche. Working with women in recovery is a niche.
  • The main goal of establishing a niche is to be so clear about who you work with , that those particular people will come to your website and immediately say, “YES! This person works with people like me and I want to work with her!” Anything less than that and people get confused and rarely bother to call to make an appointment.

True Story

Yesterday, I got an email from a family in India. They want me to work with their son on issues of executive dysfunction. They read my website which is search engine optimized for the term “executive functioning.” Small niche, international clients…..sometimes this stuff even surprises ME!

Since establishing a niche is your first step toward successfully marketing a private practice, the first lesson in my Marketing Your Private Practice Blueprint focuses on exactly that. Registration is only open until tonight, May 19 at 9PM Eastern. Take a look here. I’d love to help you define your niche so you can build the thriving practice you desire and deserve.

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