Turning away customers is nerve-wracking. You need clients to grow and without revenue a business is no more than a hobby. So, how can I suggest that there are clients that you need to turn away?
Ironically, the smaller and younger your business, the more you need to focus on your ideal clients and turn away those that would distract you. A young or small business needs to establish an identity and must select and maintain that identity and not defer their branding to their customers.
For example, if you are trying to establish a brand and business focus around graphic design for marketing, but your friends and family keep finding work that is oriented around creating logos, you will have a hard time setting your brand and choosing your path.
If you go far enough down this path, it’s possible to find your web site, social media, business literature and so on at contradiction with the work that you’re known for. Once this happens, it can be quite hard to do the work that you started your business to do and it can become quite hard to grow.
So, how do you avoid being defined by your customers?
You must brand your business consciously and stick to your guns. Define your services clearly, including the features and benefits. Identify your ideal customers and be able to describe them. Be able to articulate why your service is better, different, etc. Know what problems you solve and the situations your ideal clients find themselves in which you can help them with.
With your crucial messaging in place, make sure it is reflected in your web site, your social media accounts, your business cards, your networking comments, company glossies, etc. Choose your identity and stick to it. Focus on reaching out and engaging with your ideal clients.
When you’re approached by clients that aren’t ideal or work that is outside your sweet spot, you have to make a decision. You can help them find somebody that is appropriate for them, gaining their gratitude as well as the gratitude of the business that you refer them too.
Or, if it’s urgent that you gain the revenue to make it through a dry spell or to begin growing, you can take the business. If it’s a “one of” then their is no harm, but if it’s a pattern you may need to adjust your business model to acknowledge duel paths. One path is your ideal business, which you continue to maintain as your main focus, and the other path is the revenue that helps your business continue to operate until you can resume a singular focus.
Resist the siren song of the wrong clients and follow your path. You’ll find it easier to grow your company and you’ll enjoy it more too!
Michael Nelson ”The Cogent Coach”