When I started my business, I was like most new businesses, signing up any client who was willing to pay for my services. Of course, not everyone was a good fit for my business.
One thing I learned recently is that I can’t really afford to take everyone. Some people prefer to have a niche, and I believe that it is more important to have a type, rather than a niche. My niche is the small entrepreneur for many reasons. But, that doesn’t mean I should take anyone just because they are in my niche. I have found that by asking more questions and looking for a specific type of client, I have been able to increase the quality of my clients. This makes running my business and my job more enjoyable, and less time consuming.
My questions are specifically designed to weed out those potential clients "undesirable" to me. Now, this does not mean that they are necessarily bad clients … just that they are not right for us. I prefer not to deal with detailed inventory tracking or Multi-currency clients, while others may thrive on those types of clients. My type represents clients that VALUE the services I offer and the services I want to offer.
With the move to the cloud, I do not offer the traditional bookkeeping services. Instead, I help clients solve their pain points, provide business counselling, mange the clients financial workflow and analyze the data, in order to counsel my clients to help them increase their bottom line and grow their businesses. Part of my information gathering process has a set of questions that will help me weed out those who may want more traditional services that are not a part of the vision I have for my practice. Within these questions, I ask for them to rate the importance of certain tasks I have listed on a scale of 1-5. These tasks are made up of traditional bookkeeping tasks and the services I currently offer. If I notice that the traditional tasks are higher rated than my services, I know not to continue. For example, data entry is a big one. Anyone who rates data entry a 5 is not my type. Again, this may not make them a bad client … just not my preferred client.
I also found that by weeding out those that place a higher value on the services I offer, they’re the same clients that see the value in my prices and are willing to pay for those services. By using this system, I have been able to increase my bottom line while spending less time doing non-desirable tasks, and my clients are all happy.
I have been able to teach several of my clients to value price their services for a higher profit. I’ve also helped two clients that were near bankruptcy to understand their financials and bring them to profit by making minor changes, such as subcontracting and consolidating certain services, rather than paying employees to handle those items. And, just this week, I had a client that was paying $1,400 a month for a business coach for the past six months. I found that she just wanted certain pain points handled, as she had no idea how to solve them. It never occurred to her to speak to me regarding the issues. But, the numbers tell us a lot. I was able to give her the advice she was looking for, and did not receive, from the business coach. I am not saying that business coaches don’t have their place, but not this time. This is the type of relationship that I want to foster and is my type.
What’s your type, and how will you go about finding them?