First rule about business – define your ideal client.
Second rule about business – DEFINE YOUR IDEAL CLIENT.
Can you tell I loved Fight Club?
Hey – my blog, my personality.
Anyway, having been in business for over a decade, I have worked with A LOT of people.
Some have been a dream and some have been what nightmares are made of.
Each one helped me build the Buyer Profile for my ideal client.
If you don’t know what a “Buyer Profile” is, read the definition below that was borrowed from Hubspot.
An ideal customer profile (ICP), commonly referred to as an ideal buyer profile, defines the perfect customer for what your organization solves for.
Now, don’t mix up your target audience and your ideal client. They are two different things.
Your target audience is the schematic of the person you want to work with.
Are they male? Female? Non-Gender Specific?
In some cases – sexuality (i.e. you are a coach to only Asexuals)?
You begin to put the pieces together of who you want to service.
Some prefer to only work with only women and/or mothers.
Others only to prefer to work with clients outside of their own state.
The stipulations are endless BUT important.
Knowing your target audience will help you hone in on your ideal client and mold your business model.
So how do you determine your ideal client?
In addition to the above descriptors, you also NEED to take personality into consideration (and trust me – you will be happy you did).
Let’s say you only prefer to work with Mothers outside of your state, between the age of 25-43.
Great, you have your target audience but this is still a massive sample of the population, personalities will differ from one person to the next.
I have met women who fit in this category but still expected me to be on call if they had questions, to be in meetings during drop-off and pick-up (if they can have a video conference in their car with their kids, so could I!), and to prioritize their needs over everything else in my life.
Some business owners would be shocked because they would assume having a client that “parallels” their life would mean they would be more understanding, right?
Do not assume that just because someone’s life resembles yours means they are understanding, considerate, and respectful. You will be sorely disappointed.
This also means you shouldn’t assume that someone who doesn’t have a life like yours wouldn’t be understanding.
A business owner doesn’t have to be a parent to understand/respect that you can’t be in a meeting at 5pm at night because you are probably making dinner for your family (this is not gender specific – news flash, men cook dinner for their families too!)
A fellow entrepreneur doesn’t need to be in a relationship (either married or dating) to understand that calling your house at 8pm a night on a Friday or Saturday may be interrupting your evening.
You get the point.
Yes, determining your target audience is essential to your business model BUT determine your ideal client is necessary to enjoy your business.
Decide what YOU will and will not deal with.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you want to work with someone that is passive or aggressive (how will they react to bad news within or outside of your control)?
- Do you want to work with someone who is responsive or non-responsive (meaning you hear from them right away or it could be weeks between communications – causing major delays in tasks and projects)?
- Are you ok with being readily available with real-time communication (Slack, Skype, WhatApp) or jumping on a call when requested?
- Are you fine dealing with constant last minute request with the “My procrastination IS your emergency” mindset?
- Could you survive a nitpicking perfectionist – meaning no matter what you do, it just isn’t right and it never will be.
- Are you able to handle a martyr? They don’t know how to take the answer “No” and guilt trip any time you try to setup boundaries and/or expectations.
These are just a few and what’s scary, every single one of these is from a client I have had.
This brings me to another buzz word – “toxic working relationships”.
In the first few years of my business, I came close to quitting COUNTLESS times and it was always because of horrible clients. I am thankful that I have gotten better within my gut instinct but a few rotten apples still sneak in here and there (and they are QUICKLY thrown out!)
A toxic working relationship infests your business.
You don’t want to look at your emails in fear that one is from them and dreading what you “got wrong” this time even though you did everything to perfection.
You cringe at a meeting request because that just means the first 15-20 minutes they are going to rip you down only to give you more work (yeah – never made sense to me either).
You begin to hate what you do, question why you bother, and slowly watch your hard work ethic diminish.
Don’t even get me started on the psychological damage.
I tell people now I could be the poster child from Imposter Syndrome because of the self-esteem boxing matches I endured within those first couple of years.
The crazy thing is when I realized what was happening and decided enough was enough (and it took wonderful clients to finally shine the light on the terrible ones), they BEGGED me to stay. “You are the best VA I have ever had.” “I would hate to lose you.” “I am so sorry, we can work on it.”
Geez, I swear Lifetime has made movies like this.
Starting to see the important of establishing your ideal client?
Don’t do like I did.
Don’t learn this the hard way.
Don’t wait until you are a shell of a person and finally reach a breaking point.
Determine who your ideal client is NOW, how their personality melds with yours, how well you work together, how much they will respect your boundaries, and if you can truly see yourself working with them for a long time.
You took the time and energy to vet who you dated right? This isn’t any different!
The secret to a beautiful (working) relationship is NEVER SETTLE!
I know when you are first starting out, it will be tempting to “take what you can get” but resist the urge. It may take time BUT patience is a must, and it will be worth it in the end.
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