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Coaching and walking - How to align your values to grow your niche by Donna Neseyif


During my training at The Coaching Academy (TCA), I was told many times the importance of 'finding a niche'. I followed this advice, by drawing on my work as a Development worker in Africa, as well as 20 years managing businesses and developing teams, together with successfully running my own holiday cottage business to define my niche; activating individual and business potential.

Within this niche, I offer executive and business retreats, strategy days, team building and coaching in the New Forest. 

On graduating from The Coaching Academy and deciding to set up my own business within my niche, my first challenge was what should I call the business? 

The ‘ah-ha’ moment for me came while I was at Latimer House, where TCA holds the International Coaching Awards and live training days. It was here that I decided on the name Baobab Growth, and this name came to mind when a fellow coach helped me really think about what was important to me. I felt the name needed to be integral to me and my beliefs and this is what led me to think back to my time in Africa as a development worker. As it was during this time I started to understand the real strength and motivation of people. It is also where I came across the Baobab Tree, which is often known as the tree of life. This is because the Baobab has all of the resources within to not only survive but flourish in the harshest of environments. And this is the essence of my business today. I believe everyone, and every business, has the resources within to achieve whatever they want. Sometimes they get knocked off track, lose their way or need support to find the right outcome for them. This is when I can help. It was with this realisation that the core of both my business and my niche was born. 

Caption: Donna Neseyif, founder of Netwalking and Baobab Growth 

Stepping into nature and growing my niche 

Perhaps, however, the most important thing to ensure the success of Baobab Growth was being honest with myself and what motivates me. Being outside and close to nature has always given me positive energy and inspiration and I felt a need to reflect this in my business. This realisation was the turning point for my niche, and my business, Baobab Growth. As, recognising that nature was an integral part of what I wanted to do, and drawing on learning from a negative experience, where walking and talking helped me heal and find a positive way forward, I used this to inspire the direction of my business.

So, I expanded services and started walking coaching. This new way of coaching felt good, as the clients felt good, and also it really helped my clients open up about challenges. Being outdoors in a different environment provided them with inspiration to think differently and find the right solutions for them. Plus, walking and fresh air increased their motivation and an overall feeling of well-being. 

However, this concept wasn’t without its challenges, as walking and coaching are more difficult for me as a coach. As well as listening I had to make sure we didn’t get lost! I also had to really listen, as it is not easy to take notes when you are walking, and of course, there was little eye contact. However, I discovered that this lack of eye contact helped clients open up. It also helped my listening skills as I had to listen for the changes in expression, rather than look for them. With time, I have learnt to adapt my coaching approach and I now do most of my coaching while walking and it works well one to one and with business teams. This new approach has improved my own health and wellbeing, as well as that of my client’s. As I feel sometimes in our busy ‘plugged in’ world, we forget how nature can help us overcome challenges and provide inspiration. By getting my clients outside and back in touch with nature, they have learnt to move forward in a positive and sustainable way, both personally and with their business.

Taking this concept one step further 

Following the success, I found with walking coaching, I have also set up Netwalking New Forest, which gives people the opportunity to get outside and work on their business. This is particularly helpful for solopreneurs or small business owners, however, I also have people from corporate businesses attend. The beauty of this group is it is a great way for people to work on their business as well as their own health and wellbeing – plus it’s a new way to meet new business contacts! I run Netwalking as a guided coaching walk where people have the opportunities within their group to discuss challenges or ideas. Everyone has a spotlight moment, and everyone learns a few coaching tips to take back to the workplace.

My overall learning since I qualified with The Coaching Academy, and embarked on my niche and setting up a business is the importance of being true to yourself. If you are honest with yourself and follow your own values, this passion will be clear to those around you, and you will ultimately attract the right clients. I love the outdoors, I love being close to nature. I do not need to sell the benefits to clients they see it in me and choose me because of my passion and belief in what I do. Which in turn means I attract clients with similar values and aspirations making the coaching experience for client and coach a successful one.

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