Well I had a big AHA! moment awhile ago. I had agreed to meet a new date, but he hadn’t made firm plans and the voicemails left were focused on what was going on in his day, and nothing about where and when to meet. We’d been talking for over a week and I realized the closer the time got that this wasn’t a fit for me. Our conversations didn’t make me smile, grin, or giggle, instead I couldn’t find the common happy factor.
Your Ideal Clients are Out There, Are You Looking?
Suddenly I realized he didn’t have the minimum criteria for me to meet him face to face. He didn’t make me smile. I love to laugh and am actively looking for that guy who brings laughter with him. No, I’m not talking about a standup comic, I just notice when I talk to someone whether they make me smile. I pay attention to texts, emails, and voicemails and if I get a grin or giggle. It matters to me, this is my minimum criteria. And since I know those that do make me smile, I know it is entirely possible.
What are Your Minimum Client Criteria?
I realized that at the same time this applies easily to clients you have and customers you do business with. It’s important to create your minimum criteria (doubting that laughter is one, but how great if it is, lol). And when a new client or customer falls outside your minimum criteria, you politely refer them out. No matter how hungry you might be, when you breach your minimum boundaries you will give up your peace of mind, your profit, and your patience at the very least. Honor yourself and your business will grow.
The Price of Not Being Picky
I didn’t always have minimum criteria for clients, and like you, I took on everyone, wanting to serve the world. Well, when you try to be all things to all people, you are of no value to anyone, most of all yourself. And I learned fast that my peace of mind is not for sale, no matter how much is being offered. I got picky and my bottomline grew while my actual workload shrank. When you work with the cream of the crop, you will make more with less effort because you’ll stop leaving opportunity and profit on the table.
Making Your List and Checking It Twice
This kind of is like being the Santa Claus in your own business. You want to know who is naughty and who is nice so you can work with the nice ones. Your list can include basics like:
- Willing to pay your minimum project or product investment
- Working within your normal work hours (requiring nights and weekends that your normally spend with family, may not be a good fit.)
- Being appreciative of your professional expertise and honoring your recommendations (do you really want to work with a steamroller personality?)
- Referring you to their friends, associates, and more when satisfied with your work (this is critical and you have a responsibility to “train” them to do this well.)
- Paying you in full and on time, it starts with the first invoice. (I’ve found that business owners most often pay on time and in full, corporate types often take their time as they are used to “processing” payment requests.)
- Are they hands-on clients or hands-off clients and which works best for you?
Looking Great on Paper Isn’t Enough
Yes, there are a host of demographics that are extremely helpful in identifying your perfect client at the outset, but this is about the less tangible pieces of the working relationship. For all intents and purposes my “date” looked great on paper, he had the qualities I was seeking, but it fell apart in conversation and that was a priceless indicator of what the relationship held in store.
Go for Success, Avoid the Indigestion of Failure
Pay attention to the signs and signals you get in conversation, they are big indicators of where your working relationship will go. When you blind yourself by being hungry you will likely wind up with indigestion instead of satisfaction.
Love to hear about your AHA moments in business and how you define your ideal client!