Constructing a business that works for you

Dear Niche Doctor,

I am young 60-year-old professional psychologist thinking seriously about transitioning from seeing patients eight hours a day to a more flexible application of my considerable skills. I have an idea and would appreciate your opinion to see if my concept is a viable one. In essence, I am well-known in my field for a particular specialty that would lend itself well to teaching and conducting some local seminars which, in turn, could produce income allowing me to retire soon. I may be young at heart, but worn out from the ceaseless drain of seeing sick and unhappy people one after another and want to change fast.


With the limited information you provided, the following tips should be helpful as you go forward with much-needed career change.

First off, don’t think too small. You use the word “local.” I ask why only local? With today’s technology you can reach the nation – indeed, the entire world – nearly as easily as down the street. Think webinar instead of exclusively on-site seminars, because you can only do a limited number of those before you once again feel worn out. Remember, there is only so much of you to go around and you’ve already battered yourself once. No need to repeat.

Second, consider developing a range of revenue centers, including online classes and digital products. These will provide the kind of passive income required if you are to have a flexible and personally satisfying schedule. You can go on vacation knowing that your online store is happy and doing its job.

Additionally, a clear and powerful focus is a must. Whatever your specialty, it is essential that you and your approach be distinguished from the rest of the pack; excellence alone won’t cut it. You need a niche that is yours and yours alone. My hunch is that in your case, the niche is you, underscoring my mantra, “people buy people.”

Once you are clear on your focus, plan to make yourself a household word to your target audience. A great way to do this would be by doing a TED talk. Practice and develop your talk by presenting to local civic and service groups. Remember, invisible won’t get you business. As you move forward, think aggressively and creatively about marketing strategies that will make you visible.

Most of all, be careful to construct your new business so that it works for you – so that you are in control and it delivers your most important goals and not the other way around. All too often, I have seen those in helping professions create exactly the kind of nightmare scenario you describe in your question. No need to make the same mistake twice.

Dr. Lynda Falkenstein is a business consultant and author of NICHECRAFT: Using Your Specialness to Focus Your Business, Corner Your Market, and Make Customers Seek You Out. To contact the Niche Doctor with questions or comments, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 503.781.0966. Please note that the Vancouver Business Journal reserves the right to publish your letter or an edited version in all print and electronic media.

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