by Tony Vidler
It is not a simple thing to find…and to be honest I think I am only just working out that perfect niche now. Why has it taken me a couple of decades (ok…maybe longer…) to find it – and how can you avoid the same mistake, and save yourself a decade or two?
I could be wrong but I think many of us fall into the trap of doing what other people do, and doing it the way they do it, simply because it LOOKS successful – and we haven’t spent the time thinking about defining what success is to us personally. So we spend a lot of time making a living the way other people do, and believe that is “successful”. Defining success for ourselves is difficult for many – and besides, “success” is something which we often re-define at different stages of our lives. Simply defining success for ourselves – whilst helpful – can be a little misleading when it comes to trying to determine where to spend our working life. That’s where working out our passions – the stuff we love to do – is extremely useful.
To be fair it takes many of us a long while to work out what it is we “love to do” – and we do have to learn for ourselves along the way. We try different jobs, different courses of learning, different firms in the same business….looking for that “thing” we love to do” (and which will pay us well!). We sort of have to learn some stuff we don’t love so much while we are working out the things that we do love – our passions.
The third and most significant thing that prevents us finding our niche is probably going to be quite blasphemous to many readers though.
Perhaps the biggest thing that hinders us in finding that perfect niche is that we spend too much time “selling”. We sell our cleverness to ourselves; we sell our qualifications and technical skills to our peers and consumers, we sell our clients on what we perceive their problems and their solutions are…. Basically we don’t really think a lot about what other people will value, so we learn to “sell” to compensate for our lack of awareness.
Speaking for myself: guilty as charged I’m afraid.
To begin to get to the point where you can work in that perfect space you have to think very very honestly (just inside your own head!) about what it is you actually LOVE doing. The stuff that you do seriously can’t wait to get stuck into each day…and for many of us that is not “technical skills” stuff. I don’t know too many financial planners who cannot wait to get to the office and put together tax reports for their clients….or too many risk management professionals who are aching to get in front of their computer and rip into some analysis of the financial strength of various insurance companies. Actually…I don’t know any advisers like that.
Invariably the stuff we LOVE doing centers in some way upon “people” – not our technical ability. How we make others feel perhaps…being able to do things others can’t do…teaching and changing lives….these are the types of things that inspire and motivate us most. They are the very reasons why so many professionals do volunteer, charity or pro bono work outside of office hours.
If you want to begin finding your perfect niche as an adviser perhaps the first step is to think about the volunteer and community work that you have done – or thought about doing – over the years. The work that you have done for nothing – just to help other people or make the world a better place – will be the best guide for helping you zero in on what it is you truly love doing. It is relatively straightforward after that to work out what you are great at…and working out what others will value and pay for.
To find your niche “sell less, serve more”. Business and life is more fun and fulfilling when you’re working in that space of doing what you love, and which you are good at, and others are valuing you for it.
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