by Lisa Taliga
Do ideal clients really exist or are they a myth? Let me assure you, there ARE ideal clients out there. You just need to know what your definition of one is.
Since I started my home-based business, I've had ideal clients and others that weren't so great. Believe me, your clients will influence how you feel about your business on a day-to-day level, so you should aspire to get this right.
So first of all, do you have an idea of who your ideal clients are?
Because if you don't really know, how are you going to find them?
Draw up an ideal client profile. Start by looking back at former bosses and work colleagues you've worked with.
You remember that boss or colleague you really got on well with. Why did you enjoy working with them? How about that boss that used to make you dread going into work? What traits did they have that rubbed you up the wrong way?
You might realise that you prefer working with people who are hands-off and let you get on with things. Or maybe you prefer those who want to get more involved when you're working on projects.
When you go into business for yourself, you no longer have to put up with people whose personalities clash with yours.
Here are some characteristics that are common to all ideal client profiles (I work as a Virtual Assistant, but you can apply most of these principles to ANY home-based business):
Willing and able to pay on time
Let's face it, if your clients are continually late paying their bills or indeed cannot really afford your services, they aren't ideal clients.
Understands that you are a peer, not their employee
If your clients think you're their employee, they'll treat you like one. That's not why you went into business. Your ideal client will respect you and your skills, and treat you as an equal.
Is forthcoming and timely with information
This ties in with the point above. Your ideal client will understand that you need certain information on time in order to do your job well. They won't routinely withhold information until the last minute and then expect you to meet an almost impossible deadline!
Ethical and professional
This really goes without saying! There are plenty of shady characters around in the business world. If someone is operating a business that doesn't seem above board, stay well clear.
Comfortable working virtually
If you're a Virtual Assistant, your ideal clients must be at ease with working virtually. The very nature of your business is that you perform work from a distance, therefore your clients must be comfortable with ‘letting go.' They must have confidence that even though you are not there physically, the job will get done well and on time.
At ease with technology
They don't have to be technology gurus, but a functional understanding of the basics is important if you're going to have a smooth running relationship. If you're going to be communicating mainly by email, they need to have a good understanding of that medium.
It's vitally important that your clients can communicate their expectations and deadlines clearly. A very clear explanation of what they want you to achieve for them is fundamental. You'll also want to work with people who give you honest feedback about what's going well and what isn't.
Seem like a tall order? Not at all. I have found many ideal clients using the benchmarks above.
Once you've thought about your ideal client's qualities and characteristics, ask yourself other specifics such as:
- What industries are they working in?
- Where are they located?
- What kind of services do they require?
Again, look back over jobs you've had in the past. What fields interest you?
Would you prefer to work with people who are based in your home town and/or overseas?
Your ideal client wants the kind of services you provide. Think about what you like to do. Do you enjoy organizing events? Do you like research? Do you like writing? What about designing flyers and newsletters? Do you like typing, editing and formatting documents?
Do you see how valuable a specific client profile can be? It'll help you to create a business that you enjoy, not just another job. When talking to prospective clients, you'll soon be able to decide whether they are right for you or not. Remember, it's not just about who wants to use your services, it's whether you feel comfortable about working with them. The higher your client ‘scores' against the profile you've defined, the more chance you have of building a mutually beneficial long-term business relationship.
Will you ever find your ideal clients? Yes, of course you will. If the list you've drawn up seems daunting, don't let it overwhelm you. You're far more likely to build a business that you love, if you go out into the world with a sense of who your ideal client is. And if you are already established and working from home, it is never too late to refocus your client base and turn your business into the one you dreamed of.
(c) Copyright by Lisa Taliga
Lisa Taliga is a Virtual Assistant and author of ‘Freelance from Home! The 5 Key Steps to Your Successful Virtual Assistant Business' and ‘The 7 Things You Must Know Before Starting Your Successful Virtual Assistant Business’.