Take an honest look at your current client roster.
1. Ask Yourself: Who do I absolutely love working with?
Make a list of all the traits that make them an ideal client. For example:
Being willing to try new strategies and ready to pivot quickly when necessary. If you are just starting out or exploring a new niche in your business, ask yourself, what traits WILL my ideal clients have?
AVOID: Taking on clients just because they have the ability to pay you. These clients can end up depleting you emotionally & the momentarily bump in your bank account won’t be worth it. You want clients that can pay AND are great to work with.
2. ASK YOURSELF: CAN I BASE MY IDEAL CLIENT AVATAR ON AN ACTUAL PERSON, (or several REAL people?)
When you base your ideal client avatar on demographic or fictional info alone, you can get into trouble. You might end up creating solutions that you THINK people will want.
For example, I once spoke to a potential client and asked who his ideal client was. He had done some research and determined that Rock Stars were his ideal clients. (I am being literal here, meaning Dave Grohl Or Bruce Springsteen would be his ideal clients.) I asked the million dollar question: “Do you actually KNOW any rock stars?” He responded, “Well, no, of course not.”
If he had dug a little deeper or gotten to know even a B List rock star, he would have discovered a few major problems with his ideal client avatar. #1. It takes major marketing dollars (or blind luck) to get in front of rock stars. #2. Rock stars have stuff given to them constantly. They don’t need to buy your $9.00 product. I’m not saying that it could never happen, I’m saying that he would have been better off choosing an ideal client based on REAL people he knew; that he had access.
When you ASSUME you know what your client wants, because you don’t really know anyone like them, you get into trouble, like Bic did with their pink pens for women.
Or with “Lady-Friendly” Doritos:
Take a Close Look at your “Bad” clients too.
3. Ask yourself: I if had to do it all over again, who are the clients I would never choose to work with?
That may sound harsh, but I bet there are a couple of client situations that went off the rails and taught you A LOT about the kinds of people you don’t want to work with. Pay attention to your past struggles so that you don’t take on these types of clients in the future.
And to be clear, these are not bad PEOPLE, they just turned out to be BAD clients—FOR You.
Make a list of the traits that make them a BAD client for you. For example: Lack of budget, inability to decide on a course of action and stick to it, taking 3 weeks to reply to an email request.
AVOID: Anyone who isn’t an ideal client and who can’t pay your full rate—today. The biggest mistake you can make in business is taking on clients who can’t afford you. They will expect Gucci results on a Walmart budget. And always remember clients who don’t have a budget refer other clients who are looking for a bargain. Just. Say. No.
ACTION ITEM—DO THIS RIGHT NOW:
Take a moment right now to WRITE DOWN ALL of the qualities your IDEAL clients would have AND all of the qualities a BAD client has. When you are pitching for new business, make sure that your prospects have a lot of the good qualities you are looking for and very few of the bad traits.
Most of us have had to take on non-ideal clients on occasion because we had to pay the rent. I understand that, because without steady cash flow, it’s game over for your business. However, if you have a goal of only working with ideal clients who can pay your full rate, that is going to make your life a lot happier and your business a hell of a lot better.