What prevents advisors from optimizing their niche

Five reasons advisors don't take full advantage of their target market.

We all recognize how beneficial it is to have a filter that helps us sift out distractions from opportunities. So why are so many advisors still operating without a helpful filter and continuing to spend versus invest their time? Many advisors find themselves in this position. Either they’re not focused on a niche at all, or they’re focused on one (or many), but the dynamic isn’t serving them as well as it could. Let’s dig a little deeper and look at the top five issues that hold people back from optimizing a niche.

  1. It’s important but not urgent. Many advisors want to home in on a niche, but that process ends up at the bottom of their to-do list day after day. With so many fires to put out, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s urgent. And it often feels like we can’t order lunch without an interruption, let alone decide how we want to specialize. We get stuck in reactive mode, letting our career happen to us rather than being proactive and making it happen. And while it’s natural to keep putting it off and declare that we’ll think big picture when we have some time, we’ve got to remember that our future is created by what we do (or don’t do) today. The things that are important but not urgent are ultimately the things that have the biggest impact on our trajectory.
  2. They’re afraid of being too specific. Many advisors never commit to a niche because they’re coming from a perspective of lack. If they specialize, they worry they’ll lose out on a whole range of potential clients. Plus, they don’t want to turn anyone away. But if they can shift their mindset to one of abundance, they’ll realize that there are more than enough clients to be had, and they’ll actually be gaining much more by specializing. Focusing on a certain niche doesn’t mean they have to turn away every person who doesn’t fit into it exactly. It just means that they can be more targeted in their marketing efforts and more selective about whom they bring on.
  3. What got them here won’t get them there. Many advisors reach a certain level of success and then get stuck in a rut. And while they would be OK just continuing to do what they’ve always done, it won’t get them to the next level. So, if you’ve never focused on a particular niche or have focused on the same one for a significant amount of time, what could the next chapter in your business look like if you made a bold move or even a slight but crucial shift? It can be comforting to stay in your comfort zone, but playing it safe will lead to incremental rather than exponential growth.
  4. Something is missing. So often, advisors are going through the motions, and even if they’re doing well for themselves, they still feel like something is missing. Often, it’s because they don’t feel like their day-to-day is connected to something greater, whether that’s their individual purpose or “why,” their own personal core values or a vision of the future they want to create. And, if that’s the case, it’s hard to get the most out of what you’re doing, no matter how specific the niche may be.
  5. They chart the course without clarifying their destination. Would you ever hop into a boat with your loved ones and all of your belongings and start rowing if you didn’t know where you were going? Probably not. But the problem is that we do that in business all of the time. As go-getters, we just want to get out there and take action. But, oftentimes, advisors fail to optimize a niche because they mistake taking action for moving forward. It doesn’t matter how hard we row if our boat is pointed in the wrong direction. If we don’t take the time to step back and get clarity on where we are headed, we’ll end up wasting our time with what seems productive in the moment but doesn’t actually get us anywhere.
Lois R. Weinblatt is the founder of True North Business Development.
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