I'm thrilled to introduce you to my friend, Jennifer Sobel, who is a gifted healer and the entrepreneurial force behind The Belly Dance Solution. One thing I've noticed in the work I do is that there seems to be a lot of mystery around the process of establishing your niche and I feel like Jennifer's story brings clarity to this issue that has mystified so many of us.
Show NotesI’m thrilled to introduce you to my friend, Jennifer Sobel, who is a gifted healer and the entrepreneurial force behind The Belly Dance Solution. One thing I’ve noticed in the work I do is that there seems to be a lot of mystery around the process of establishing your niche and I feel like Jennifer’s story brings clarity to this issue that has mystified so many of us. In this episode, Jennifer shares her journey of how she landed on a niche that combined her passion, values, and interests with an identified need for the people she most wanted to serve.
- How Jennifer developed her niche
- The “a-ha” moment she had that helped her create a connection between two seemingly different concepts that she has blended perfectly in order to serve her people and create a thriving business.
- The importance of specificity in defining your niche
- How niching down actually helps you expand your business
- The Belly Dance Solution
- The 14-Day Belly Dance Reset
- Check out my book | ACT On Your Business: Braving the storms of entrepreneurship and creating success through meaning, mindset, and mindfulness
- Coach with Clarity Collective
- Coach with Clarity Podcast Facebook Group
- Connect with Me on Instagram
- Email Me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now it’s time for you to show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity! Screenshot this episode and tag me on Instagram @coachwithclarity and let me know what you’re more excited to explore in future podcast episodes!
Well hey there, my friend. Welcome to the Coach with Clarity podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough. I am your host and I am so excited you are joining me for this week's episode and it is a good one. I am so thrilled to introduce you to my friend Jennifer Sobel, who is the force behind The Belly Dance Solution, which you are going to hear all about in our conversation today. But Jennifer is a gifted healer and entrepreneur. And today she shares with us her journey of how she landed on a niche that combined her passion and her values and her interests with an identified need for the people she most wanted to serve. And I think that's probably going to be your biggest takeaway from our conversation. I know it was for me, and especially because when I am working with my own private clients, or when I am coaching the members of the coach with Clarity Collective, one question that comes up quite a bit is around niching. How do I come up with my niche? How do I know if my niche is the right one? Is it too small? Is it too broad? There seems to be a lot of mystery around the process of establishing your niche. And I feel like Jennifer's story brings clarity to this issue that has mystified so many of us. You are about to hear how she developed her niche, the aha moments she had that helped her create a connection between two seemingly different concepts that she has blended perfectly in order to serve her people and create a thriving business. So let's get right to it. I am so excited to share my conversation with Jennifer Sobel.
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Lee: Well, hello, Jennifer. Welcome to the Coach with Clarity podcast. I am so excited to have you here as my guest this week.
Jennifer: Thank you so much for having me, Lee. I'm so excited to be here.
Lee: My pleasure. I was just thinking about how long you and I have known each other. We've been in each other's worlds now for a little over a year now, almost two years, I think.
Lee: And I cannot believe it's taken me this long to get you on the show. So thank you for your patience!
Jennifer: Well I appreciate it.
Lee: And I am so excited to dive in because I think you have such a fascinating story, particularly around your journey as an entrepreneur and a business owner and how you developed your niche and identified who you wanted to serve and how you wanted to serve them. So I'm excited to dive into that. But first, let's start at the beginning. Let's kick things off with learning a little bit more about you and the work that you do for the world.
Jennifer: Yes. So I help women live happier and healthier lives through belly dancing. And one of the things that I discovered, my belly dance has been my passion my entire life, but what I didn't realize was what a powerful healing modality it was. So I have a number of different programs. One of them is called the Belly Dance Solution. It helps women strengthen their pelvic floor through belly dance and relieve bladder leaking. And then I have other programs that are more general learn belly dance programs. But it all comes under that umbrella of using belly dance as really a tool to help women to connect with themselves in a deeper way and to help them be happier and healthier.
Lee: I love that so much, actually, as a woman who has dealt with pelvic floor issues. Lucky me, I had two nine pound babies that I delivered and then had a partial hysterectomy a couple of years ago. So I have become very familiar with my pelvic floor, and I wish I had known someone like you way earlier in my journey. So I love that you are out there doing this work. I think it's necessary. I think it's something we don't talk enough about. And so all the more reason why I'm excited to have you on the show.
Jennifer: Thank you.
Lee: So I know, though, that you didn't start out with this idea of supporting women and their pelvic health through belly dancing, that you've been on a bit of a journey, and I was wondering if we could maybe go back in time a little bit and really talk about the origins of your work and now your business.
Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. It's been quite the journey, and maybe your listeners can relate to this is I feel like so much of our lives we go through different stages where we feel completely in the dark about what's happening and why things can feel very chaotic. We don't understand our purpose, or we thought we understood our purpose, and now we're not so sure anymore. And I feel like so much of my life was like that, especially as it came to my professional path. I actually started my professional career as an acupuncturist. I got my master's in traditional Chinese medicine. I practiced acupuncture and Chinese medicine for about five years, and while I enjoyed it, around the same time that I started that career, I was starting to do belly dancing. First, I just really threw myself into it just because I loved it and I just couldn't get enough. And then relatively quickly, within a couple of years, I was doing it professionally. And so there was this kind of weird contrast where, yes, I was an acupuncturist by day. I enjoyed what I was doing, but the belly dance just went above and beyond in terms of, “Oh, my gosh, I love this, and I want to do it all the time.” So it was actually kind of hard to earn a good living as an acupuncturist at the time. And so I decided, you know what? I think I'm going to go more into movement. And I got certified as a personal trainer, and so I did that for about four years, and at the same time, I'm still doing my belly dancing. I'm performing, I'm a teacher. And it was my dream to figure out how could I turn belly dance into my full time business, because it felt like everything else I was doing was like, the side gig, and I wanted the belly dance to be my full time gig. And it took me literally, I think I started to really put energy into, “Okay, how can I turn this into a business?” in around 2011. And it wasn't until 2019 that I finally started to figure it out. The thing that really took me to the next level and gave me the epiphany that I needed to figure that out was, I was at the gym one day, and I was trying to think about, “Well, okay, I really want to create a belly dance product.” And I had started a digital marketing business, and I was like, “Okay, I feel like I know enough about the online world now that I can create my own product.” So I was at the gym, and I saw a commercial for a bladder leaking drug. And in that moment, I remembered an event that had happened three to four years earlier that I had really kind of completely forgotten about. So one of my regular belly dance students had come up to me after class. She had a big smile on her face, and she was so excited to tell me something, and I was like, “What?” And she said, “Well, since I've been belly dancing, I don't have bladder leaking anymore.” And she was like, “It's so awesome. I have my life back. I don't have to think about it.” And so I was happy for her. We had this moment, and then I forgot about it until that moment in the gym when I saw that commercial, and it clicked into place, and I thought, “Wow, I wonder if there's a market for this?” I wonder if more women have this problem?” Well, I did my research, and it turns out that it's actually one of the biggest problems that women will have in their lifetime. And about 30% to 40% of women will have lateral leaking at some point in her life. And so I validated the idea, and then I created my first belly dance product called The Belly Dance Solution, and it just completely took off. And I realized that I needed to identify my niche before I could create a successful business out of my passion.
Lee: There is so much in your story that I find inspiring and actionable as well. So I'm really thrilled that we're going to have this opportunity today to kind of break that down. But first, I just want to acknowledge, though, that you are tackling an area that for so long has been almost taboo. Like, we're not allowed to talk about women's health. We're not allowed to talk about our reproductive organs, our genitalia, our bladders. The idea of being public about bladder leakage, I think many women, myself included, carried a lot of shame around that because I definitely struggled with bladder leakage issues after I gave birth to my babies. I remember my oldest son was about four or five months old, and I decided I was going to go for a run. And I had not gone for a run since giving birth, and literally, I couldn't even make it around the block before I realized that I was soaked from the waist down. I didn't even realize it was happening, and it was bladder leakage. Nobody had told me that this was even something that could happen or would happen. I felt embarrassed. I didn't know where to go or who to talk to about it. And I suspect I am not the only woman out there who has had a similar experience.
Jennifer: Oh, my God. Yeah, it’s the norm.
Lee: It is the norm. And so I really do want to thank you, first off, for bringing this issue to the public consciousness and giving permission for women to talk about it in a way that's free of stigma and shame and just acknowledging this happens, you're not alone, and there's something you can do about it.
Jennifer: Absolutely. I mean, that is definitely one of the things that I'm most passionate about, not just in this program with the belly dance, but that I'm helping women to come out of this dark place of shame around it. Just from the stories that my students have told me, I would say at least 90% of women don't tell anybody. I mean, not even a single human being. And the statistic is that two thirds of women don't even tell their own doctor that they have bladder leaking. So you can imagine it's not something that they're probably going to tell anybody else. And yeah, like you were saying, it's so pervasive for women to just have this unconscious shame around our own bodies, our menstrual cycles, just all of that. And the sad part is that it makes it harder for women to find the solutions that are going to help them to feel better. Because bladder leaking is common, but it's not normal, and it's not something that women just need to accept as being a part of their life.
Lee: Yes. And so here you are entering the scene with this really innovative way of helping women address this problem that actually is fun. It's good for our bodies. It has all sorts of mental health benefits as well, which we'll talk about. But I do want to acknowledge too, what I love about your story. It’s how there's all of these different threads that have woven together over time. You had a background in the healing arts through acupuncture. You discovered belly dancing as a personal outlet. You started seeing maybe there was a way to kind of overlap the two. And then you went to this personal training route to kind of bring in more of the movement piece. But it really was it took you eight years from 2011 to 2019 to really figure this out. And so I just want to say to anyone who's listening, who feels like you've been doing this forever, it's taken years to find traction. Sometimes that's a part of the process, and sometimes it does take three, five, eight, even more number of years before we really feel like we've got a grasp on what it is we're doing.
Jennifer: Yeah. And for me, I think the biggest piece that was required for me, like if I look back on my journey, was for me to learn the marketing piece, because I had picked a niche that's even harder to market than most things because it's really outside of the mainstream. And I think the problem that I was having was that if I say to people, “Oh, learn belly dance,” there's not enough teeth to that, there's not enough for people to hold on to. But when I translated it into something that was going to help a big health problem, then I sort of attached it to a bigger problem with a bigger pain point. And it was easier to communicate what I did by being more specific about it. So I feel like with your audience, for instance, even if somebody doesn't become a, quote, marketer, it really all comes down to being better at communicating what you do.
Lee: That's exactly right. And fortunately, communication is something that coaches are naturally good at. It's a part of our client work. And so really, it's just translating that skill into the area of marketing. And I love the example you provided, which is most women weren't out there looking for a belly dance program or a belly dance instructor, but a lot of women, 30% to 40%, were looking for some relief from urinary incontinence. And so once you identified that as a need, you were able to position your offer in such a way that it spoke to what people wanted. They wanted a solution to bladder leakage. What they didn't know they needed was belly dance. And so that kind of came after. But you really started with where your audience was and what they were looking for. You met them halfway. And I think that's such a beautiful example of successful marketing in action. And you were able to do so without compromising your values, your beliefs, your ethics. You were still serving, you were just finding a different language to talk about what you do.
Jennifer: Yeah, and the interesting thing is, one of the first things I ask people after they purchase the program, I send them out an email and asking them why they joined. And the interesting thing that surprised me was a lot of times a woman's main reason for joining the program wasn't even the pelvic floor. It was that they had always seen belly dance, they always wanted to learn, or there were other aspects of it that attracted them. And I think that a lot of times when people think about niching down that it's going to put them into a box. But the thing is, you'll still be able to speak to all those things and help in other ways, but you just need to attract people through one main thing.
Lee: Yes. So let's dive in then, because I'm really curious, when you think back about how you did that in your own process, what do you feel like were the key elements that supported you in effectively translating your passion for belly dance into what's now quite a profitable niche?
Jennifer: Yeah, well, I definitely think going back to what we were saying, that it was about really getting specific and really attaching it to a very specific problem that had a very big pain point. I just feel like we can't speak generally about what we do. We have to be very specific about it. And the more we can tie it to a specific problem, the more effective we're going to be able to communicate with our audience about how we can help them. So getting really specific was key to that for me. And then the other thing that I've discovered through what I did with The Belly Dance Solution and also just observing other people's businesses as well, is that if you can combine two different niches like I did, like I combined the belly dance niche with a health problem niche. If you can connect two different kind of unexpected niches together, there can be tremendous power in that.
Lee: I love that. So what I'm taking away is, number one, specificity is key, and don't be afraid to get really even granular, like getting really specific and connecting it with the problem that you know your audience is having. And then number two, if you're able to take two seemingly different niches, so for example, belly dancing and health problems and find the connection, to me, that's the source of innovation. And that's what's going to set you apart from anyone else out there who is either teaching belly dancing or trying to help women with bladder leakage.
Jennifer: Exactly. And so I think if it's helpful to just get into a brainstorming exercise about it, like, what kind of unique pairings could I do in my business where I'm connecting two kind of unexpected niches that you wouldn't think go together? Like, for example, I thought it would be really cool. I'm not divorced. I've actually never been married. But if somebody had a travel company for women who were recently divorced, that's taking two totally different niches and putting them together.
Lee: That's brilliant. So giving yourself permission to brainstorm and explore and think about ideas that might seem even polar opposites, but finding that through line as to how they can be connected.
Lee: Do you have any other ideas or thoughts or even techniques that you might suggest to someone who's feeling stuck around their niche?
Jennifer: Yeah, for sure. I think one of the big things, and it took me actually a really long time to have my own personal epiphany around this, because I used to get stuck around niching down too, because I would think, oh, I'm going to limit myself. I don't want to limit myself, but it actually frees you up. Because we're not Coca Cola. Right? We can't be a general thing because we don't have that kind of marketing budget. So when we can be really specific, it makes us so much more powerful. And so I think just realizing that around, “Okay, when I find a niche, this is actually going to help me to expand rather than limit me.” And I can have a lot of different niches. It's not like I need to have one. But when I'm communicating about this one thing, I'm going to be really specific about it. So for me, first, just having that epiphany and realizing kind of, I guess, removing that own internal obstacle that niching is going to help me be more powerful in how I'm communicating.
Lee: I think that's so important. And I know it seems a little paradoxical that it's only by getting really specific and hyper-niching that we actually expand. And yet there's such truth to that, because you're right, we don't want to serve everyone. We can't serve everyone, especially those of us who are solopreneurs or who have maybe a small team, but we are really the main person providing the services and doing the work. We just don't have the capacity to serve everyone. And so when we get very specific in our niche, we actually do ourselves a favor. We give ourselves some room to grow, and then as we grow, then we can start building out and scaling if we choose.
Lee: But I love this idea, though, that getting specific and niching down actually is the key to expansion. I think that is so important.
Jennifer: Yeah, and you said that so well, I hadn't really thought about the paradoxical nature of that. It is such a paradox because I think most of us have felt, or do feel, that niching somehow creates a limitation when it actually helps us to expand and be more specific in some sort of way, but not in a limiting way. And that we can continue to create a whole product suite that address different things. But at least now we know exactly how to communicate what we do, how we help, we are better able to find the people that we can help by getting more specific. So that was one thing, and then I think when people think about a niche, you can again expand it in a different way where it could come down to brainstorming around. “Do I help people who are in a certain life stage, in a certain transitional stage? Are they between one stage and another? Are they in a particular sticking point in their life?” Or thinking about your own personal history and the things that helped you. How could you create a niche around that and just allowing yourself to go into different directions around a niche, not a specific person, but maybe a particular life stage that they're at.
Lee: I think that's so wise. And I really appreciate too, how when you talk about developing your niche, you really are centering your passion and the idea that we can create a business doing something we love. And I don't buy into the argument that do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life. I don't think that's true. I think it's do what you love and be prepared to work hard and then reap the benefits. Because it does take work, but it's the kind of work we actually enjoy doing because it's something we're passionate about. So if we're able to pull our passion and our love into what we do, then I think we're going to feel more fulfilled. And when we are doing the hard work, we're not going to mind it so much because it's connecting us with something that we deeply appreciate and enjoy.
Jennifer: Yeah, exactly. And I was thinking about this word livelihood. I think the root of the word is about what you do for work so that you can live. But if you think about it in this way, like doing something that makes you come alive, livelihood, doing something every day that ignites you. And like you're saying, no matter what path we choose, there's always going to be challenges, there's going to be some aspect to it that's hard, but if it's connected to your passion and your purpose and the things that make you come alive, then it's worth it.
Lee: I so agree. And I'm thinking about how when I'm working with my own clients or with the members of the Coach with Clarity Collective, and we're talking about niching and marketing, I always ask them to get really clear on what their values are so that they can center their work in their values. I've not really looked at it from the perspective of their passion, and I think that's been an oversight, actually, on my part. And I think we need to be bringing that into the conversation as well. So it's certainly about what matters most to you. What do you stand for, what drives you, but also what are you passionate about? What are the things that you could do for the rest of your life and be perfectly content. That deserves to have a place in the discussion as well.
Jennifer: And even if, I don't know, let's say your passion is gardening, and you're like, well, how can I bring that into my work? Well, maybe it's not that one to one correlation, but I think you hinted at it that also your values and what gets you excited, your philosophy sometimes. That's my passion too.
Lee: Yes. Oh, I feel you on that, Jennifer. That's why you and I are friends.
Jennifer: Exactly. And actually, I've been reading your book. I was reading it this morning, ACT and the finding the meaning through the work, because even though I'm passionate about belly dance, there are days where I'm in the muck, and it's coming back to the meaning and my values that bring me through.
Lee: I'm sitting over here blushing. I always get really excited and honored when ever someone’s like, “Oh, I'm reading your book.” I'm like, “Really?”
Lee: Well, thank you for that nice little plug. I promise you all, I didn't even ask her to do that. That was very generous.
Jennifer: No, I'm working through it. I'm really enjoying it. I'm getting a lot from it.
Lee: Thank you. You kind of alluded to this that there are some challenges that we face, some obstacles, and I'm curious if you're willing to share any of the key obstacles you might have encountered in that period of time. Especially, I'm thinking that eight year period of time where you were really trying to figure out what your hook was and how to make this work. What were some of the obstacles you faced, and how did you work through them?
Jennifer: Yeah, when I look back and it was like, gosh, I was trying every possible thing I could think of to create a business out of my belly dance. It was too general, and it wasn't connected to a specific problem. For me, that was, like, the biggest breakthrough. And until I changed that, I don't think anything was going to change in my business. I really needed to connect it with a specific problem and a specific pain point and a specific outcome. So I think that alone was probably my biggest breakthrough.
Lee: And I would love to talk about that a little more, because I have seen in certain spaces this idea that it's somehow wrong or unethical to market from a place of focusing on problems or pain points. And I just want to pause and say that I think if we are trying to create or manufacture pain in people that didn't previously exist, or if we are trying to agitate their existing pain in order to manipulate them into buying our product, that's what's unethical, that's what's problematic. But to ignore the existing pain and problems that our audience is experiencing and to feel like, oh, we can't talk about that, because that could be unethical, I think we've taken it a little too far there. And so I really appreciate you talking about this in a way of acknowledging what your people are already experiencing, the pain they're already having. And instead of trying to make that worse, you're actually coming to them from a place of compassion and understanding and saying, “Yes, and here is a solution you might not have thought of before.”
Jennifer: Right. And it's like we all have problems. I mean, the businesses that are most successful and profitable are ones that are best able to solve people's problems. I mean, that's just like the nature of life. So if we can better identify someone's problem and better solve it, then we'll be able to continue doing what we love doing. And I know for your audience, I know it was true for me when I was doing acupuncture and personal training, I just wanted to do more of the work that I love. And my being able to do that is sustained by me being able to help people and solve their problems. And I mean, me personally, I don't even know that it's necessarily like when I think about agitating pain, I think more about bringing it to the forefront, bringing it to the forefront of someone's consciousness, which I think is essential to being able to solve it. So I think that is a necessary step too. I may quote agitate it to bring it more to the conscious awareness so that we can then take action on it.
Lee: Right. And you're doing so from a place of “No, I have something that I know works, I know it can help you. You still have the decision to make as to whether you want to take me up on this or not. But if this is something you are legitimately experiencing, well, then let's talk about it and let's talk about solutions.”
Jennifer: I mean, life is hard. We do have a lot of problems in our lives and if someone can help us with that, that's a beautiful thing.
Lee: I agree. And Jennifer, I just so appreciate how you have shown up and shared your story and your path and made it really actionable so that we can take a look at your journey and what you've done and pull out these ideas that being specific in your niche is critical. Tying it to a problem or a challenge or even an opportunity that your audience has, when you can make that connection, it's going to strengthen the likelihood that people are going to take you up on your offer. And then also this idea of looking at two different niches and seeing the ways that you might be able to combine them. And that's the source of innovation and that's the source of a unique selling proposition, a USP, something we talk about a lot in marketing. You are such a living example of that and I so appreciate how you walk your talk and that you allow yourself to be an example of what's possible. So thank you so much for sharing that with us today.
Jennifer: Thank you.
Lee: Absolutely. And I suspect there are going to be people out there who are very interested in your work and The Belly Dance Solution and all of the other wonderful products and services you have available. Where is the best place for people to connect with you?
Jennifer: Yeah. So if people want to know more about my Belly Dance Solution program, they can go to thebellydancesolution.com and if someone is just wanting to experience more like the joy, the fun of belly dancing, get a good workout, those kind of things. I also have a program called the 14 Day Belly Dance Reset and I created a bitly link for that. If you go to https://bellydancereset will take to that program as well. It's only $14: a dollar a day to get started in belly dance and experience the fun and benefits that belly dance has to offer.
Lee: Excellent. So we will make sure that we have links to both of those in the show notes. And again, Jennifer, I just want to thank you for coming on the show and sharing your wisdom with us. I am so grateful.
Jennifer: Thank you so much. It was so much fun. I appreciate the opportunity.
Lee: Oh my gosh, my pleasure.
Thank you so much to Jennifer for coming on the show and thank you for listening today.
I hope that Jennifer's story both inspired you and left you with some practical tips for what you can do in your own business to clarify your niche and connect it with your passion. Again, for me, the two top takeaways were, number one, the importance of specificity in defining your niche and this idea that by niching down we actually are able to expand our business with more ease and likely in less time. So that was point number one. And number two, the idea that we can create a brand new niche, often by combining two concepts or two ideas that may or may not seem to go together on the surface, but when we can find the through line that connects them, that may lead to our next innovative offer. So in Jennifer's case, that was combining belly dance with an established health issue like urinary incontinence. The other example she gave was travel planning and working with divorced people. I would love to know if this has inspired you to combine some seemingly different ideas that might be your next niche. So if this has inspired you, if you have an idea that you would like to share, I hope you'll reach out. You can find me on Instagram and Threads @CoachWithClarity and of course my email inbox is always open to you. Just send a message to me at email@example.com. I would love to hear how this episode and Jennifer's story inspired you.
Well, my friend, that is it for this episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast, but I will be right back in your feed. In two weeks time with a brand new episode. So I hope you will join me then. I also hope that if you find this podcast to be inspirational, to be actionable, to have helped you in your journey as a coach, I would be honored if you would share this podcast with someone else you think might benefit from hearing it. I still believe that personal referrals are the most effective strategy when it comes to sharing your story, building your audience, growing your business. I feel that way when it comes to finding clients, and I certainly feel that way when it comes to finding listeners. I am so grateful to have you as part of the Coach with Clarity community. And so if you know someone that also values innovation, intuition, and ethical practice and coaching, then invite them to take a listen to the Coach with Clarity podcast. You can send them to coachwithclarity.com/podcast or just let them know they can find the Coach with Clarity podcast wherever they listen to their shows. Just type Coach with Clarity in the search bar and it should come right up. So until next time, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.
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