I just recently replayed my February Elite VA Insider’s CD on Niches, featuring Candy Beauchamps, CEO of OffAssist (www.Offassist.com), which reminded me that I was one of those VAs who just couldn’t understand all the fuss about establishing a niche.  I really LOVED doing all sorts of different projects and couldn’t grasp why it would be such a big deal to be a generalist.

When I was creeping towards my third year in business, I remember feeling totally stressed and wondering what I’d gotten myself into.  We were at a tipping point – either we found some sort of funding to be able to maintain and grow my business, or I went back to the corporate world.

Fortunately, my husband was supportive and allowed me to choose to get a personal loan to help keep my business in place.  It was about this time that I was approached by Michael Russer’s (www.michaelrusser.com) organization, an avid supporter of the use of virtual assistants for REALTORS, to participate in a VA roundtable discussion he was going to be holding as a part of his keynote presentation at the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Conference in San Francisco.

I had been working with several REALTORS since I first started my practice and enjoyed the type of work they needed to have done, so when I dipped my toes in that niche market, expending the money needed to participate in this opportunity was a great way to test my theory about whether or not having a niche was the right thing for me.

The event was very well organized and provided the REALTOR niched VAs the opportunity to present themselves to their target market on a more personal level.  Once I returned from this event, and used the knowledge I’d gained to really craft a more focused message to this target, I saw my business take a more positive turn.

THEY were right!  Having a niche established me as an expert and allowed me to create a more focused marketing plan that yielded far better results, on a much smaller budget, with less time and effort.

The other thing I learned was that it didn’t mean I couldn’t or wouldn’t attract clients in other industries or markets, or be able to offer the more ‘general’ services I always had.  It simply allowed me to create a much more successful and profitable business that has allowed me the freedom to reinvent myself several times over, and develop a much more lucrative practice than I’d ever imagined.

So, don’t be shy, take the plunge – niche yourself!  Here are several tips on how you might decide what niche is best for you:

  • Look at your current clientele and pick out those that you enjoy working with most – are they in a similar industry – do they use similar software – do they require similar support services?
  • Research industries that would benefit from the specific type of services you are most well versed to provide
  • Look into specific industries, or business types (small businesses; home-based businesses; schools; corporations, etc.) to see what types of problems your expertise might solve for them
  • Ask other friends, clients, colleagues and peers what types of people might be able to use the services you’re most wanting to provide

Now that you’re on your way to creating the niche you’ll be supporting, there are several things that will help you move to the next step in the process:

  • Create an ‘ideal’ client profile for the industry in which you choose to niche yourself to help you develop the right marketing message that will allow you to reach your new target market
  • Research, and talk to current clients or prospects within that niche to see where they hang out – what organizations do they belong to; what magazines do they read; and what challenges do they face that would warrant them looking for outside support that you could provide
  • Create new content for your website, including meta tags and keywords, to help connect to your new target market
  • Develop a new marketing plan and detail how you’ll reach this market and present yourself as the obvious solution to their need
  • Keep track of how your prospects are finding you – this should be done for any prospect, whether a part of your new niche, or any other industry.  In order to get the best return on your marketing investment, you need to know how this particular prospect found you – even if you find they’re not your ‘ideal’ client, it’s good to know that, too.

Don’t be afraid that you’ll limit your business growth by creating a niche for your business.  Take it from someone who believed for several years that I didn’t need a niche – you NEED a niche!

Even though my website focuses on my niche markets, I still get plenty of referrals and prospects who connect with me based upon my obvious expertise in that niche.  It’s just the psychology of business.

Jeannine Grich, owner of Accurate Business Services, a VA practice, is an author, writer, speaker, and VA Business Coach, specializing in providing professional business coaching to established and start-up virtual assistants (VA’s).  For her FREE article,  “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?” or “Finding or Expanding Your Niche”, Visit:  https://VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: info@VAbizcoach.com.

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