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  • REACTInitiative

The Elusive Niche

Find your niche. Has anyone ever said this to you? Have you ever been told to find your niche? I have…and it was often shared as a piece of advice with no further clues or breadcrumbs to help me along on my journey. It’s like a niche cliché (for the record: I’m feeling a little slighted that the last part didn’t rhyme). Find your niche! Ok. Where ya get those at? It’s not like you can run down to your local Wal-Mart or Target and grab one. I haven’t seen one and they have E’RYTHING!

So where do you begin? It takes a little soul searching. It’s a process and not a specific destination. Start by asking yourself some key questions. Here are a few helpful ones to get you started:

What type of professional experience do I have? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What type of work have I enjoyed the most? What impact do I want to have on my chosen field? What is the market for this type of work? Who is currently doing it and how can you improve upon that service/product? What am I absolutely passionate about? That last question is particularly important. Choose wisely because you will spend the next few years thoroughly saturated in this “thing.” In my case the journey started with me asking myself, “Am I even in the right field?” I am a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and have enjoyed the field for a long time, but I began to grow tired…well, to be honest…almost bored with the same day-to-day work. I know that the field has a lot to offer. We are fortunate in that we can switch settings without too much difficulty and, in so doing, change up the monotony of the work. I have primarily worked in the school setting and this whole decision may have begun with an “r.” Do you know how many students have difficulty producing the “r” sound? I was just worn out from working incessantly on that phoneme…and when I stepped back and took inventory, I realized I was a bit tired of other aspects of the work too. So, I decided to make an escape plan. I needed something more from my career—something that speech pathology in the school setting was no longer able to offer me. Since I had served in a number of roles, I decided to make a list of the things I liked and disliked about previous jobs, positions, roles, duties, etc. I bet you can guess where the r’s were stationed on my list. In the end, my plan included going back to graduate school (grad school 2.0, as I call it) to get my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. Now, before anyone freaks out and thinks that I am suggesting that this is a requirement for you to start a viable business—think again! This was simply my journey and my way of doing what I had set out to do. Your route may look different and that’s perfectly okay. You may not need any additional degrees. If you’re an SLP, trust and believe that we already have plenty of education without grad school 2.0. I should know, I’m still paying for grad school 1.0. So, the above suggestions should at least help put you on a trail to finding the elusive niche. Some will have an easier time finding it than others. Some may take a longer period of time to pinpoint it. Don’t get discouraged. Do not be deterred. It’s in there somewhere in the midst of all the wonderful skills you possess. This is where your business journey begins. Buckle up... business is a trip!

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