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In search of the ideal client: Is it time to upgrade your client roster?

There comes a time in the life cycle of every successful business where leadership has to choose a direction for the company. That means identifying a specific market to target. It’s true that when you’re first starting out, you are far more likely to welcome through your doors anyone with the money to pay for your goods. But as time wears on and you begin to zero in on your business goals, you will find it necessary to pinpoint whom your business will serve.

The truth is, you can’t serve everybody. And why would you want to? Your target clients are people who understand and value what it is you offer. You don’t have to explain your value to them. You don’t have to jump through hoops to get your money. You just have to deliver on your promises and make their dreams come true. Is that so hard?

The problem that we often perceive is that we can’t afford to turn anyone down. If that’s the case, what you have may be a problem with cash flow or your business model, but not with your customers. 

“You are your the company you keep… Choose your clients as carefully as you choose your friends.” – Michael Port

Michael Port’s Checklist to Help You Find Your Ideal Client

A few years ago, I was unhappy with my business when I came across Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid. I read the book and realized not only did I need to do a better job of identifying and courting my ideal client, but at that point in my career, I needed to iron out the details of my brand, offering, goals and strategy.

My mission had changed and I didn’t even notice it. I no longer enjoyed working as just a writer. My mission was to make an impact and leave a legacy. My business operations needed to reflect that change.

 In his book, Port identifies four key principles to help you clearly identify the client you are most capable of serving.

  1. Choose your ideal clients so you work only with people who inspire and energize you.
  2. Understand why people buy what you are selling.
  3. Develop a personal brand so you’re memorable and unique.
  4. Talk about what you do without sounding confusing or bland.

Port recommends putting together a list of seven traits that your ideal clients all have and based on that list (which includes your prospect’s financial stability). If your current client roster doesn’t match your ideal customer’s profile, you need a plan to prune bad clients while you pursue clients who are a better fit for your business. 

Here are some of the questions listed in Port’s book that can help you identify those ideal clients . If, after reading this, you’re still grappling with your client list and how to go about attracting the right customers, spend the  you grab Michael’s book, do the exercises and take the action steps.

  • What type of people do you love being around?
  • What do they like to do?
  • What do they talk about?
  • With whom do they associate?
  • What ethical standards do they follow?
  • How do they learn?
  • How do they contribute to society?
  • Are they smiling, outgoing, creative?
  • What kind of environment do you want to create in your life?
  • Which of your clients do you look forward to seeing?
  • Who are your good clients who don’t feel like work to you?
  • What are traits of the clients you don’t want?

If you’re not where you want to be with cash flow or the majority of your customers bring your more pain than satisfaction, it may be time to keep it moving. FYI, you can download the Book Yourself Solid Workbook directly from Michael Port’s site by clicking this link or Googling “Book Yourself Solid pdf”.