In the spirit of streamlining your business for success in the new year, I’m going to suggest something that may seem a little crazy. I want you to fire some of your clients. Not all of them… just some.
Again, I know that sounds crazy, but there’s a reason I’m making this suggestion. And here it is… Not everybody is (or should be) your client and you can actually grow a more sustainable business, faster, if you’re selective about the clients you work with.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don’t think that way – especially when we’re starting out. We’re afraid we won’t have enough clients or money coming in, so we take every project and every potential client that comes along. We take clients who insist on deep discounts in our pricing to the point where we’re not actually making money doing the work. We take clients who don’t respect boundaries and take up more of our time than they’re willing to pay for. And we take clients who are just never satisfied or difficult to work with.
If you get too many of those types of clients, you could be in trouble in terms of burn out and revenue. They suck up your time and energy. And, if your time and energy is spent on the wrong clients and projects, you may not be able to take on your ideal client when they come along.
So, here’s a tool you can use to make some decisions. First, think about your current clients. Now write each down, along with a description of products or services they’ve purchased and their characteristics – easy to work with, good communication, timely payment or always asks for steep discounts, calls my cell frequently after business hours, etc. Then categorize each from A to D, with A clients being ideal, B clients being good and easy to work with, C clients being average, and D clients being the ones you dread working with but do it anyway.
Once you have them all categorized, it’s time to “fire” those D clients. Finish up whatever project you may be currently working on, then let them go. You might find that just raising your prices and not negotiating is enough to get them to move on. Or you can go the more direct route and let them know the relationship isn’t a good fit and you’d be happy to help them find someone else. However you choose to handle it is fine, but you need to let them go.
Also give some thought to how you could make the B and C clients better – those who are good or average clients – and move them closer to the ideal category. What services could you offer them? How could you serve them better?
To summarize, always keep these two things in mind:
First, there is a “right” client for you. Don’t be afraid to turn someone away if they’re not. It’s empowering. But you need to be clear on what that ideal client looks like.
Even as your business is getting established, it’s a good idea to think about who your ideal client would be. Create a profile of that client – you can use what you learned when making your categories as a guide – and start focusing your marketing efforts on that demographic. And don’t be afraid to say “no” to clients and projects that aren’t a good fit for you – the ones who fit into that D category.
Second, there are patterns to success and patterns for failure. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working, you need to change your patterns and behaviors.
Always remember, you control your time – how you spend it and who you spend it on. You have control over your energy and where you invest it. And you have control over your attitudes and behaviors. Be confident – know your value and stand up for it.
When you’re working in your most creative, productive, “happy place” where you’re working on projects that inspire and energize you, you do your best work and are more likely to love what you do. And when you are doing those projects for clients who fit the description of your ideal client, the work is even more rewarding. Your work is valued and you’re compensated well for the value you offer. Put that way, it seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?
If you have questions or would like a complimentary consultation on how to streamline your business for greater productivity and increased profits, call or email me today! I’d love to help you get started!