A lot of us business owners waste much time and energy calling
on and responding to anyone who expresses a hint of interest. (I say us because I have done this over the years in many ways and at different times) Sometimes, people are just being friendly, or
they don’t quite understand what you do so they express interest.
Unfortunately, people don’t understand that it is more helpful to say, “I
don’t really understand how you can help me” – instead they drag us along,
and along, until we think we have a “live one” – a hot prospect, when
in fact, we have nothing like that.
Michael Port says it better than anyone I know when it comes
to finding your market niche. He talks
about serving others, and finding people to work with where “you are
inspired, and can do your best work with”. That means that if you have
clients that drag you down, who don’t inspire you – you need to think about not
working with people like that, and find others who do give you energy, and you
are enthusiastic to work with.
Think about the clients you already have. Of those, who feel
like the best customers? Definitely the ones who pay on time… that is a factor,
but also who do you meet with or work on
a project for, and walk away feeling better than when you started? Don’t just
look to bigger clients, but ones who help move you forward.
See if there is an industry niche – like technology
companies, or financial services. Do you have a geographical niche? Since I am
in the Northwest, while I could work with anyone in the world, I prefer to work
with my main clients within North America – early morning for those in the
East, and anytime for West coast clients.
Whatever you do, NARROW your scope down so that people know
who you are and what you do. I have clients who are bag distributors – they
don’t make bags, but distribute them. They know their niches and hit all the industry trade shows that fit
The more you are CLEAR about who you serve, the easier it is
for people to refer you, which is another big reason to be clear on the value
that you bring, and who is a best-fit client.
I believe that people really want to help, and they will refer once they
understand who could best benefit.
Action: Make a list of your top five clients. Find
similarities in them and make note. Distill a list of what characteristics your
best client looks like. Then plan on how you can find them.