I have always known I was a designer. However, I didn’t always know what that meant in terms of solidifying my design career. Although I knew I loved design, I dabbled in every job imaginable. From tech start ups, design agencies, Forbes Fortune 500 companies, to film and the music industry. I even spent 8 years in college studying business, fashion design, and design and media arts. You might say I’m a jack of all trades. At the time it was confusing to me how so many different walks of life would help me find my specific niche though. I mostly felt discouraged trying to fit in where I belonged. I’m at a point in my career where I live for my job now. I don’t mean I live to work, I mean I can’t live without work. There’s a difference, but it took me nearly forty years to figure it out.
If you are struggling to find the thing that makes you crave work I’m going to walk you through a series of exercises to first explore what you are passionate about, and second what you are good at. Together with the help of a little self research we are going to uncover where you should lead in your career path. I should preface this by saying if you are not passionate about anything other than not working then this article is not for you. This is for entrepreneurs who are hustling to find their niche so they can begin pursuing it, or those looking for the right company to establish themselves.
A great place to start is by asking 3-5 of your closet family members, friends, professors or coworkers what you are great at. When I was lost in the world of design trying to figure out what type of designer I wanted to be: culinary designer, fashion designer, web designer, graphic designer, product designer, interior designer; I asked a few of my closest friends and family to tell me what they thought I was best at. All of them said the same exact things: design, design, design but more specifically: fashion, creative design, brand design and marketing. While that didn’t narrow it down for me since there is a large number of industries I could pursue in any of those categories, I started thinking about which one of those professions made the most sense for me longterm.
I asked myself what I wanted in my career and narrowed it down. My specific requirements were: working for myself, a career without a salary cap, and doing exactly what I love everyday from anywhere. Fashion design was too expensive to pursue without investors, and I wasn’t overly excited about fashion styling for a living. So that eliminated starting with fashion. That left branding, creative design and marketing. Ding, ding, ding! If I stopped producing 15 fashion campaigns a month for brands I would have the time to use my brand and marketing skills to help other entrepreneurs build and design their businesses and websites while making more money. All of which I was was knowledgable and passionate about.
As soon as I got serious about applying my core skills to my interest in design I could see clearly. It was transparent what I needed to do in order to start my business, scale my business, grow my social media following, and build my client database. Whether you are pushing paper across a desk in your current job hoping for something new to come along, or dabbling in every hobby to find your passion, we all have characteristics and skillsets that help us identity who we are and what we are good at. To discover your niche you first need to establish which type of person you are and what you came here to do. A great place to start is evaluating your human design.
According to Ashley Stahl, these 10 core skillsets will help you figure out how you should be spending your days to be the most successful and happiest. To figure out which type of person you are choose which number you identify most with and lead with daily. These categories are not limited to the examples given, these are just references to help you narrow in on your core skillset. Read through the list to see which one fits you the closest.
10 Core Skillsets In Business
Some of you might gravitate toward more than one of these skills however the exercise is to identify which is your strongest skillset. It is important to know where your skillset derives from as well so that you are choosing accurately. For example, if you lead with #5, a service provider, because you have been taught to be a people pleaser that may not be your true passion. Seek within yourself to pinpoint exactly what you are good at, or have the passion and willingness to learn well enough to be good at.
For some people they dream of being one profession but do not have the skillset to do so. If you don’t want to put in the work to become an expert in that field it is best to lead with your strong suit. Once you have narrowed it down to one category start creating data about yourself. What drives you? What excites you? What do you do exceptionally well with that skillset? What can you spend 8 hours or more doing daily? Then ask yourself why? Get to know exactly which of the 10 skillsets you lead with and what you love about it. Once you have discovered your niche begin to niche down by making a list of everyone you know or are inspired by who is pursuing a career path in the field that you want to be working in. Study what they are doing. See how they started and what their specific niche is. You can also utilize LinkedIn and other social media platforms by searching words targeted specifically to your skillset to see what aligns with what you want to be doing.
Generating profiles from the people you want to connect with or work with will help you see where your interests lie. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to start a business you can apply that same research to a business. The goal is to narrow down exactly what you are good at, what you enjoy, and what you would like to do longterm. Keep in mind, choosing one career path doesn’t cancel out the opportunity for other trades. It gives you a chance to become an expert in one niche to gain trust from your audience so you can share your other skills at a later time and scale your business.
I started as a fashion brand and creative director because I’m passionate about fashion, visual aesthetics and storytelling. However, I grew my creative director role into an entire agency that is now not only acting as a creative director, but I create brands and brand positioning and have full creative direction over their designs, marketing, advertising, brand development and product development.
Clarity comes from engagement. Ask people who are experts in the industry you want to be in for guidance or assistance. Then be fearless in your quest for discovering your niche and finding your career path. The more you ask the more opportunity you have to discover your true passion. With COVID-19 and the events of 2020 a lot of people pivoted in their businesses. They tried new things and quit other things. There’s never a perfect time to get started but you have to start to begin. Really put yourself out there to find your niche and where you can fill the gap in what people in that industry are not currently doing. Don’t settle for complacency. You were born to live your best life so don’t let anything keep you from getting there. Start practicing these exercises everyday and I guarantee you will find your niche and true calling which will reveal your most successful and happiest life.