Coaching 101 – Part 2

Coaching Niches


“Commit to a niche; try to stop being everything to everyone.”
~ Andrew Davis


Like in any other profession, coaches usually must choose a niche that is in line with their real-world expertise, experience and interests. Very few people start off their careers as coaches. Coaches are usually drawn from different sectors of the job economy, from Human Resources Management and Engineering, to the Arts and Finance, the Healthcare profession and everything else in between. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know by now that I am a Lawyer and Academic by profession who then transitioned into Human Resources Development but found her sweet spot in Career and Executive Coaching and Facilitation. I did not pick that niche out of a Lucky Packet by sheer happenstance. Identifying a niche is critical to a professional coach’s trajectory and growth.


Some coaches start off with specialized, niched training and others do an equivalent of a general degree and then carve out a niche later on in their practices. As most of you know by now, there is no career path on this planet that follows a straight path. People can arrive at the same destination career-wise via very different and no less fulfilling routes and detours along the way. This is why no two coaches are ever the same apart from the obvious fact that no two people, in general, are ever the same. I am a Career and Executive Coach and the next Career and Executive Coach will bring their own spin, personality, insights, previous exposure and life experiences to the coaching partnership.

Coaches are trained to partner with their clients and organizations in every domain of life and work. No one coach can develop an expertise and competence in all coaching niches just as there is no medical doctor who can be a Neurosurgeon, Dermatologist and Haematologist at the same time.
What this blog post seeks to do therefore, is to provide an overview of the main coaching niches globally. It is important to emphasize that there is a lot of variation even in the same coaching niches and in some countries, there is even a slight variation in terminology. Similarly, there are coaches who combine two niches because that is where their expertise and interests lie. Therefore, it is not the aim of this post to provide an exhaustive list of coaching niches, that is virtually impossible.


The following seven coaching niches are listed in alphabetical order and each will be accompanied by a very brief description:


1. Business Coach
Business Coaches, often experienced entrepreneurs themselves, provide support and guidance to small businesses, startups, and more established larger enterprises which are failing and require intervention focused on improving the profitability and efficiency of the business. Business Coaches will therefore offer a service that is geared towards helping an aspiring entrepreneur start a business, an entrepreneur looking to grow their existing business and specific support in managing the enterprise.

2. Career Coach
Career Coaches partner with their clients to help them in concrete ways to attain their career goals and develop the proficiencies required to get there. Within this niche, some Career Coaches specialize in Career Transition Coaching which is what I also offer at Higher Self Career and Executive Coaching. Depending on the needs of the client, a Career Coach will focus on career development and management or assist with priming the client to find a role that is truly in sync with their personality, skills, knowledge and passion. Psychometric Assessments are usually part of the extensive toolkit that Career Coaches use to enable clients unearth their ideal career where they can bring their gifts and talents to bear in a powerful way. To that end, I am an Accredited Practitioner of Thomas International Assessments which include High Potential Leadership Identification and Emotional Intelligence. There are other Career Discovery Assessments that I use depending on the needs of the client. In a nutshell, a Career Coach will help a client identify the career that best syncs with their inborn talents, abilities, interests and values, as well as assist with effective job search strategies.

3. Executive & Leadership Coach
Executive and Leadership Coaches partner with experienced and accomplished Executives and Leaders to improve their leadership abilities, find work-life balance, and take their careers and organizations to the next level. This is the one other very critical niche here at Higher Self Career and Executive Coaching and we focus on delivering high-end Executive and Leadership Coaching solutions to established corporates. Never has Executive and Leadership Coaching been more relevant in these Exponential Times we’re living in. Leading self and others requires emotional intelligence, resilience, empathy, fairness, big picture thinking, exemplifying the values of the organization, having a personal code by which one lives and integrating all these and other aspects into an Executive and Leader’s lives. Wise and insightful leadership is a premium ability to continually hone and apply and Executive and Leadership Coaches partner effectively with their clients to merge personal development with organizational objectives.

4. Financial Coach
Financial Coaches work with clients by providing advanced knowledge and financial literacy skills and support with the objective of achieving financial independence. This niche is fast gaining traction globally and here in South Africa too. Financial Coaches do not provide get-rich-quick solutions to clients but instead provide knowledge and support based on years of solid wealth-building expertise informed by the highest of ethical and other standards. Johannesburg is full of posters and flyers on forex trading and the world is also abuzz with the performance of Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and other digital coins entering the market at a dizzying pace. If one is serious about building solid wealth and navigating all these spaces, this is a worthwhile investment.

5. Health & Wellness Coach
I attended a Wellness Market one Saturday morning in April and met a very knowledgeable and passionate Health and Wellness Coach who is a Homeopath in training at the University of Johannesburg. Health and Wellness Coaches focus on integrating the physical with the mind and spirit to facilitate optimal living. Health and Wellness Coaches focus on providing support to clients to develop healthier habits and lifestyles to achieve specific health goals including recovering from illnesses or dealing with a particular set of health challenges. Individuals and organizations benefit immensely from the services of a Health and Wellness Coach whose focus is to address health challenges and the behaviours and nutritional-physical deficits that aggravate these and many other conditions. The emphasis in this coaching niche is on critical behavior change or behavior change interventions.

6. Life Coach
A Life Coach would be the equivalent of an HR Generalist or a GP in the medical field. Life Coaches partner with clients by guiding, empowering and helping them reach the next level and levels beyond in their personal and professional lives. I use various Life Coaching methodologies in my practice and I find the flexibility and room for creativity in designing bespoke solutions for clients quite amazing. Often clients feel stuck and held up in destructive patterns of behavior and thought that require unpacking with professional help so that the gap between the life that the client says they want and the life that they actually have is significantly reduced or done away with.

7. Relationship Coach
French Philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre is famously quoted as having said that, “Hell is Other People”. There are plenty of online discussions on what Mr Satre meant when he said this, but I’ll make my personal interpretation relevant for Relationship Coaching. Other people can either be hell or heaven depending on your ability to regulate your emotions in social interactions, communicate effectively and resolve conflict effectively. Another famous saying, from metaphysical poet John Donne is, “No man is an island”. Indeed, we are social beings and have a biological need for connection to others. These connections can be hellish or heavenly, probably a bit of both, but the scale is usually tipped in one direction or the other and so, a Relationship Coach works with individuals, couples and group to empower them with the knowledge, tools and insights to build healthier and more harmonious relationships in all spheres of life.


I hope that this has been helpful and cleared up some confusion and questions that you may have had about what different types of coaches do. Have a winning week!