Why being too focused on your “ideal client” is crippling your business

Sounds like it doesn’t make sense right? I mean you have spent ages thinking about your ideal client, who you want to work with, what kind of person they are, what they look like, how they think, where they hang out. So how can focusing on that ideal client cripple your business? Surely it should grow your business?

Well here’s the thing. Your ideal clients should have the same attitudes but they won’t necessarily “look” the same if you were to meet them in real life.

When we discuss with clients in our financial coaching sessions to narrow down who they are selling their services to, we really hate it when someone says “My ideal client/customer is female, between 30-40, a mum, works from home and is interested in Blah”. Really? So for a service based business you are automatically assuming every person in that age range, marital status and family situation wants your services? And nobody outside those superficial criteria could possibly ever want or need your services?

If you are a service based business, why narrow it down on such stringent characteristics? Yes, for product based business owners that type of ideal client archetype might be more useful as your products are often targeted to a specific “person”.

“However for a service based business (think graphic designer, website developer, copy writer, bookkeeper, accountant, laywer, etc) your client should possess attitudes that are similar, rather than physical attributes.

By solely focusing on physical attributes for your services, you are potentially missing out on clients who really need you and will really value you, or you could be taking on clients who you think are ideal, but in fact they are just draining your business resources.

So when we are looking for new clients that we would love to work with, we have a checklist that looks something like this:

1. They must want to learn

2. They must be willing to put the time in (to learn and understand)

3. They must be willing to use cloud programs to streamline tasks

4. They must embrace technology in all shapes and forms

5. They must be willing to play by the rules (in regards to the ATO, employees, payroll, etc)

6. They must see their business as a money making machine

7. They must see their business as a long term sustainable solution

8. They must be able to have a laugh and enjoy this crazy business ride we are on.

The reason we narrow down on “attitudes” rather than physical attributes is that our clients range so drastically in age, sex, location, business types, software used – pretty much everything.

Take today for example. I went and met with a gentlemen who lived in a retirement village. He invited me into his unit as he was the treasurer for his local church and was struggling to setup the BAS and his reporting in MYOB. At the ripe old age of 85 he could master the laptop and printer like nobody’s business. He totally understood the BAS, what it was, and he was so super pleased that in one hour we had crossed off everything on his “must ask Stacey list”.

There is no way that he would be on my “ideal client list” if I narrowed it down based on age alone. But he was appreciative, paid me on the spot, was ever so thankful, you couldn’t wipe the smile from his face and he even offered to write me a referral. What a total legend. And totally my ideal client.

So don’t be so focused on your pre-fabricated ideas of what your ideal client should look like that you miss some amazing opportunities. Don’t be so focused on a list of physical qualities you feel your clients need to possess, but in reality they are just superficial and they don’t impact on the clients ability to appreciate you.

And don’t be so blinded by people who are a little bit left field. Those clients could just work out to be the best ones ever.

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