Finding My Niche (in the Woods)

I’ve just spent 5 days in Sandwich on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I went camping to get away from my neighbors and problems and to re-think the way I am living my life.  Not that I’m doing anything wrong, but it seems like I’m on a carousel with no stop button. I have things to do and then there’s all the interruptions that prolong the tasks and I get behind in doing the things I have to do.

I needed to get away from my daily routine and take a long hard look at it. There’s nothing better than getting away from all the electronics to give you the time to think and the quiet to be able to listen to your inner voice.

As a virtual assistant, every day is unpredictable. Each day I have work to do: marketing my business, writing my blog, reading all the emails I get from all the online groups I subscribe to, keeping up with my online course, client work and other duties that just seem to crop up.

I was really getting behind in my work and couldn’t seem to focus on the things I HAD to do. I needed time to reset my inner clock and determine what my priorities are and how to accomplish them. That sea air really cleared my head and the lack of interruptions helped me to just relax and let my mind wander. Notice, I said, let my mind wander, not worry, about things.

I determined that I’m trying to do too many things. I think I’m doing this to appeal to as many people (clients) as possible, but I now know that that’s a mistake. I’m so worried about being all things to all people (clients) that sometimes, I’m not enjoying my business and that’s not a good sign.

Just as I had to focus on one task at a time, when I was camping – getting the water, starting the camp stove, heating the water, washing the dishes, drying the dishes, putting them away and then refilling the water jug – so too, I need to pare down my business offerings and focus more on finding my ideal clients.

I can always offer to do more for my clients, if they need additional services, but for right now, I think I need to refocus and offer my clients only 2 or 3 services. Those services will be my niche or specialization.

The problem is, I enjoy variety and learning new things, so the idea of only offering 3 services is not something that I look forward to, but it is something that will help my business to grow in the long run. It will make my business more identifiable to prospective clients and will enable me to subcontract or partner with other virtual assistants to provide more support to clients.

Sitting under those Cape Cod pine trees made me realize that those trees only function in a few ways, i.e. provide shade, home for the birds, drop pine cones to produce the next generation of trees and serve campers with a place to hang their clotheslines and tarpaulins. Those trees only function in a few ways, yet they make up a beautiful state forest.

I know there are tests to determine what you’re really good at doing, so I was trying to figure out which services I should choose. The renegade in me says “do it all”, but the voice inside of me says “do a few things very well and become an expert”.

As I sat under those pine trees, I realized that I hadn’t written anything in my travel journal. I keep a travel journal and document my trips or special day trips. It helps me to remember the good times and to appreciate those trips I took.

Suddenly, it came to me. Writing is my favorite thing to do. I have been writing all my life. I started as a young girl, leaving messages in my Dad’s lunch box. He used to work in another state and had to leave home very early every morning. I used to leave him little notes even poems.

When I got a little older, I used to keep a diary. I never had anything great to say in the diary, but I liked the idea of keeping track of what I did each day.  As a “tweenager”, I got some pen pals and I wrote to them on a regular basis. I still write to my very first pen pal from New Zealand. We’ve been through her marriage, the birth of her children, her divorce and many other events.

In college, I studied foreign languages, so I did a lot of reading and writing term papers and other projects. I became a certified freelance writer in 2009 and one of my articles was published in the local newspaper.

In my work experience, I worked as a Correspondence and Appeals Specialist, where I wrote letters of explanation to customers as to why the health insurance company wouldn’t pay for the services rendered. Later on, I worked as a Quality Software Analyst, which means I wrote test scripts for software programs under development. I took the minutes of every meeting, when I worked in banking.

As a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, I wrote articles highlighting IAAP events that were published on the association website and the chamber of commerce website. I have been creating resumes for friends and co-workers for years.

Getting away and having quiet time helped me to determine what my niche is and now I need to adjust my mindset and marketing to reflect these changes. I will still be open to new opportunities and possibilities, but I must change my main focus. I know this will allow me to strengthen my selected skills and work more efficiently without stress.

Life is full of twist and turns and this is one more turn in the road.





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