I’ve learned the hard way to stay focused on my ideal client.
The ramifications of taking on clients where the only fit is their ability to pay me have hit me hard emotionally and financially. It’s one of the reasons I lovingly nudge my clients to get crystal clear about their audience. I know the sooner they invest attention in building relationships with their ideal client, the faster they will grow a profitable practice.
A few weeks ago I had to apply the, “everybody is not my client rule,” and turn down someone who was really interested in working with me and had no objection to the price of my services. Why did I say no? She was ambitious and definitely had passion, but she was unwilling to do the work required to build a sustainable profitable business. Every time I asked questions that required her to make a decision, I got a long list of ideas and excuses. Like so many struggling solopreneurs and practitioners, she couldn’t give me a clear answer to three simple but critical questions:
- Who is her target audience?
- What data did she use to determine her rates?
- What marketing strategies had been the most successful in helping generate leads?
Clearly, she needed help. Yes, I have the expertise, tools, and systems that could help her. And yes, she could afford to pay me. But two of the things I value were missing from the list: a willingness to be open to new ideas and looking for opportunities instead of excuses. Based on our initial conversation, all signs were pointing to a coaching relationship that would have been frustrating and unproductive for both of us.
Who’s on my “Not My Ideal Client” list?
One of my favorite things about having my own business is that I get to choose to grow it by working with and for clients that I respect and admire. I get to sow into them and their vision. Working with clients that aren’t a good fit increases my anxiety and reminds me of being back in a corporate job where I worked strictly for the paycheck. Back then, I enjoyed the work but didn’t have the same values as the organization that I worked for. My options were to grin and bear it, try to transfer to a new department, or find a new job altogether.
As a solopreneur, I can get to make my life and workload easier by saying no to potential clients that are not a good fit. Based on my past experiences, I now easily say no to people who:
- Come up with excuses for not taking action.
- Resist improving their marketing and sales skills.
- Take more than they give in most of their relationships.
- Are unwilling to put in real work because they want a quick fix.
- Blame their situation or other people for their lack of progress.
- Become defensive instead of curious when given a new perspective.
- Are indecisive when it comes to investing in themselves and their business.
- Make decisions solely based on price rather than the value of what they are investing in.
- Continually buy programs and products but don’t invest in coaching that brings the accountability they need to get results.
It pays in more ways than one to know and like your clients.
Money should never be the only common denominator in your client relationships. It is much more important to have shared values like integrity, a sense of purpose, and equity. As you are signing on new clients, are you getting a sense of their values or just thinking about the potential value they’ll contribute to your bank account? If you are getting an intuitive nudge that someone might not be a good fit, listen to it. Trust me – it’s not worth the drama or the dinero if you cringe every time you see their name pop up on your calendar.
Everybody is not your ideal client. Invest your time in focusing on the people that are yourideal client and expect your business grow brilliantly.
Are you clear about who your ideal clients are?