Defining Your Business by the Clients You Don’t Take

Prune your client list. Remove the duds. Delete the ones that drain you, you don’t enjoy or wish you had had the courage to turn away.

Instead, fill your portfolio with clients that you do enjoy who are motivated to do the heavy lifting to build the business they want and work from a place of passion and enthusiasm.

It starts with your vision for your practice or business:

  • What are your ideal clients’ characteristics, attributes, issues, values? Develop a plan for going after them.  While it can be hard, do not get distracted by bright, shiny objects in the form of opportunities that can divert you from your goal.
  • What are they like as people? What do they care about? Are they fun? Do they interest you personally? Personal characteristics matter.

Business and personal realms often intersect. You likely enjoy clients who are most like you and your friends. That’s a good thing. It’s easier to identify with them, find commonalities and build relationships.

Michael Port, author of the New York Times bestseller, Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling, calls it “The Red Velvet Rope Policy.” He advises that you only let the most ideal clients hire you because then you do your best work and connect better with them. You determine who gets through the red velvet rope.

The Pareto principle, or 80-20 rule, states that roughly 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. Wisdom dictates that you should apply this principle to delete from your client base the 80% that bring in the least amount of revenue and/or take the most amount of time. Then, love the 20%.

Here are some helpful steps:

  • Be clear about with whom you want to work
  • Turn down the rest
  • Make a checklist because it’s easier when you objectify your decisions based upon fact
  • Work only with clients who want to work with you
  • Value yourself enough to turn work away with confidence and intention

Last but not least, hold on tight to the expectation that you will be happy and proud, personally and professionally!