Find a Niche and Stay in Your Lane

Path to finding a niche can be difficult.

Forward is the only way to progress.  Find a niche and get moving.
Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash

So I have been thinking a lot about my site and what I want to do with it.  The entrepreneur wants to make money off of it, the teacher in me wants to teach people to be better without charging anything for it.

Part of this comes from mental hangups about personal value: “who wants to learn anything from me?”  Those tapes run in all of our heads, and it takes a lot of work to erase them and make them say other things.

One of the things that everyone talks about is finding a niche and staying in your lane.  It makes it easier to market and it makes it easier to stay relevant. Those are significant pluses, but it also can be limiting.  

I get excited about a long list of things, and I want to talk about all of them.  I find that if you can discover an overlap between your interests, you actually can work on all of them. Still, a lot of business people have told me to scale back the topics I am writing about and focus on a niche.

Then, I got an email from someone whose writing I enjoy. He’s a teacher with a lot of products, and he writes on a great variety of topics. He sends out a daily email and I really do read it every day because it’s well written and entertaining.

I got this one email from him, and it was a list of twenty shortcuts for smart people. There were some suggestions I had never seen before, but most of the shortcuts were things I was familiar with. Then number 16 on the list jumped out at me: “Stack your passions. When you combine 2+ fields that you love, you can be average at both, but be the best in the world at their intersection. (Like personal finance + psychology.)”

First, Ramit, get out of my head.  It is weird enough in there without you hanging out.  

Second, how validating is it to see this idea I have had in my head for awhile now discussed by someone I admire?

Third, profit.

(Just kidding.)

What is really crazy to me is that embedded in this idea is another way of finding a niche (which I didn’t recognize until I typed it out for this article.)  So, my niche is people who are high performers in sports who want to use that drive and grit to be high performers in another realm.

My love for kung fu makes me want to be better at sales, teaching, digital marketing. It is the fuel that allows me to get a lot of work done.  And when I work on any one of these things, it has overlap with the rest of my life.  

The style of kung fu that I practice is unique in the fact that it doesn’t go very far to promote ranges of motion, flexibility, or mobility.  Most other styles that I have seen or done any training in are the opposite. But here, you will spend a lot of time in just a posture, or on learning how to swing your arm without your muscles tensing.

Sometimes we have to explain to people that some of the extra stuff that we do in the school won’t help you in our specific art, but it will help your kung fu as a whole. Kung fu, on its broadest level, is the study of a topic and the learning of a specific trait that you hone to perfection over time.

By that definition, yoga is a martial art. The lesson of kung fu isn’t just about fighting. It’s about getting better by working on yourself. When I am listing to an audiobook in the car about a new subject, I am also working on mental kung fu. When I teach someone in a private lesson, and they get better, I am working at my teaching kung fu. In sales, when I am on the phone for a cold-call, I am working on my sales kung fu. When I am learning about digital marketing, I am working on my marketing kung fu.

All of these skills involve getting out of your comfort zone to get better.  I heard about this a lot in the sales realm, but I didn’t ever put it together with anything else.  When I am working on my techniques with a partner in kung fu class and we start to go faster, that is putting me out of my comfort zone. When I am doing reaction drills against multiple opponents, I am forced way out of my comfort zone.

A mentor of mine told me that his motto was, “Everything I want is on the other side of fear.”  This didn’t really resonate with me until I reframed the statement.  Fear starts where my comfort zone ends.  Reading that again as I am typing it causes my hair to stand on end.  Such a powerful idea to consider.

Writing about a limited topic isn’t going to make me uncomfortable; forcing myself to prove to anyone who reads this that finding the overlap is the key to huge success and avoiding burnout is.

Eventually, when I come up with a product that provides value to people, I will be uncomfortable charging money for it. This is a regular thing that happens with new businesses.  Successful entrepreneurs will push their comfort zone and raise prices when it is called for, but this is hard to do and something I hear about in a lot of podcasts.

I tell people in the freelance realm on a regular basis to raise their rates. Most of them laugh it off and don’t do it. They are concerned that people won’t hire them if they do it. I tell them what Geof told me when we started working together: if they don’t pay, then they are not someone you should be concerned about.  

This can be a hard mindset to keep at the top of your mind, but if you can keep in mind that you are really good at what you do and that the only way to improve is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, you will crush any goals you have.

Most people will try to find time for everything in their life, this leads to  and scaling back.  Instead of getting frustrated that there are not enough hours in the day, find the overlap between the things that you are passionate about.  How does one aspect of that overlap with something else in your life?  Find something to work on, the further outside of your comfort zone it is, the better.