I’m sure most solopreneurs and small business owners have spent time defining their ideal clients. If you’ve ever worked with a coach, the concept has almost certainly come up. We’re told that we need to have a focus, to be able to envision this ideal client and market to the ideal client.
Every now and then though, someone is referred to you or finds you organically and this person is not your IDEAL client but you may find yourself having an internal dialogue about how even though they aren’t ideal, they are willing to pay you and there may be enough “close enough” to ideal traits that you decide to take on the client.
Sometimes (rarely) this relationship works out and you’ll be glad you took the chance and allowed yourself to expand your mind (and your business). Often, though, this business relationship is likely not going to end well. Or, at least one party (if not both) will end up disappointed.
Some tips if you find yourself wondering if you should take on a potential client:
- Listen to your gut. If you talk to a potential client and it doesn’t feel right, don’t take on the client.
- How do they talk about past business associates? If they say nothing nice about anyone, this is a red flag.
- Do they try to talk you down on your rate or ask for every minute to be accounted for? If so, they probably aren’t your ideal client. Your ideal client will see your worth.
- Will this client enhance your business or career path in some way? Will working with them help you be a better businessperson? If not, pass on the “opportunity” regardless of potential financial gain.
- If you can, offer suggestions on colleagues who might be able to assist the client. Maybe they’re not right for you, but they might be great for someone you know.
As difficult as it can be to turn away a potential client, sometimes you must. And you need to learn to be okay with it. By not taking on a less-than-ideal client, you are leaving space in your schedule for the ideal client who is out there and you just haven’t found yet. I know it can be difficult, especially if you’re in a situation where you need income yesterday and it seems like the prospects are not too great. In the end, when you ARE working with your ideal clients, it makes doing what you do a joy rather than a chore and I think that’s why most people who start a small business decide to do so – to do what we love.