Invariably, taking any client leads to a business that you hate. You end up not loving how your clients treat you. They often don’t have the budgets you want to work with so you’re running from project to project all the time just trying to put in enough hours to make ends meet.
The remedy to this is to start to get more picky with the clients that you choose to accept. Use the 4 questions below to start to drill down on the types of clients that you want to work with.
1. What You Don’t Want
Starting with the things you don’t want in a client may seem like a funny place to start, but it gets the ball rolling. We can all remember that terrible client and what they did that made them so terrible.
Make a list of everything that you don’t want in a client. Some primers are:
- I don’t want clients that I have to chase for payment
- I don’t want clients that are going to call me at all hours and expect me to work
- I don’t want clients that are going to use profanity when they talk to me
- I don’t want clients that are going to jump on every fad in the middle of a project and I have to expend huge amounts of energy keeping them on task
2. Make Up Your Ideal Client
Now we get to dream a bit about the best client we could ever have. It doesn’t have to bear much resemblance to reality at first, we’re dreaming.
Take a few minutes and write down a whole profile for your ideal client. What do they do in their off hours? How many kids do they have (or not have). What is the end goal of their business?
Here are some primers from my ideal client profile.
- I can laugh with my ideal clients as we share stories in our live’s that are just plain funny
- They trust that I’m giving them the best advice possible
- They love to read and we may have some overlapping reading
- They can laugh about the crazy things kids do
Take a few minutes again and put down your dream client in the comments.
3. What Are Their Needs or Deepest Desires?
Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper into your ideal client and think about their motivations for work. What are some of their deepest desires. What do they hope to accomplish with their business?
If they had a magic wand and could change anything about their work, what would it be?
Here are some primers from my list.
- my ideal client wants to have a business that runs well and earns enough that they can spend lots of time with their kids
- my ideal client loves automation so that they can get out of the things they don’t like and focus on the few things they do best
- my ideal client has a business that serves others in a meaningful way, they’re not just selling widgets
- my ideal client has a great product/service to sell that makes a difference in people’s lives, but they don’t know how to communicate that different effectively
Take a few more minutes and write about your ideal client in the comments.
4. What Do They NEED to Possess
Here is where we start to bring some of these things back to reality and start to build our ideal client checklist. Take a look at all the things above and write down exactly what they need to posses.
These are the things that are a non-negotiable for you. If they don’t have these items then you’re not willing to do business with them.
Some of mine are:
- We have to have laughed on our call
- They have to be serving others with their work (not just selling widgets)
- I have to believe that I could take my kids over and hang out with them
- They have to treat me with respect and value my opinions as an expert
- There can be no profanity in our communications
If any one of those things are not what I want then I say goodbye to the client by referring them elsewhere or just plain saying no to the work.
By having an ideal client profile and then using it with your clients you can start to build that ideal business you dreamed of when you got started.
You’re going to end up with better clients that love to work with you and in general have the budgets you’d like to work with.