Let’s talk about how to identify your ideal client. This is different from the discussions around “where” to find your ideal client (those conversations are all about networking and building relationships). Instead, today is about what the ideal client looks like and some things to consider. As you’re identifying your ideal client (be it for your virtual assistant business or OBM services), you want to think about a few questions. Those include:
Who are they?
What are their pain points?
What do they need help with?
How can I provide my services to them?
We’ll dig more into these questions when we discuss ideal client avatars. But for now, let’s cover what the ideal client looks like to you, while honoring your best self as you identify them.
Considering Their Characteristics
Some things to consider when looking at clients and their characteristics, think about those characteristics that will allow you to do your best work. For instance, I was just talking with a fellow military spouse who I’m partnering with. And, you know it’s probably the teacher coming out within me, but I said to this peer (when she didn’t know how to operate a certain software), “I’ll teach you as we go along together.” For me, especially as a new virtual assistant, it was really important for me to be transparent with entrepreneurs and say, “Hey, I’m not familiar with X.” That way, we’d work through a problem and a solutions tool together.
But! I’m a quick learner. I’m happy to jump in there and get my hands dirty. I’ve found that most people are receptive to that characteristic. Think about that. As far as you know, what type of personality is going to be open to that and what kind of conversations can you have in the beginning? Conversations that determine if they are someone who is okay with you learning as you go.
Or alternatively, are they going to be pretty rigid and expect that you come to the table with all of your knowledge and skills ready. If you, as the strategy person, don’t mind either way – learning ahead of time or learning as you go – that’s fine too. However, when you show up, know what your qualifiers are and what your boundaries are. Know what are the things that are important, so that you can have those conversations upfront. In this, you can command your space as the expert and the person who is going to deliver those skills to this client.
Consider Your Wants
For myself, I wanted someone who would learn with me. I’m going to grow with them. So, get clear on what’s important to you. Because it’s not reality for someone to expect I know every tool out there. So, determine what’s important to you.
Do you want clients who are going to have fluid opportunities for projects? Are you okay with somebody who is going to have sporadic work, as long as you’re really resonating with their vision, their goals, whatever their business is, so you can show up as your best self? Do you need someone who is a really clear communicator? Or are you fine with ambiguity?
Are you someone who can go in and ask a lot of clarifying questions in order to complete a project? Or do you need all of that information upfront? This whole process will require doing some inventory on yourself so that you can better identify your client. I’m sharing this with you because these are things I wasn’t super clear on when I started out. I had to learn as I went along. The clearer I got, the easier it was to find clients that are the right fit. Those clients then turned into long-term relationships. Those are the people who are going to continue to refer you and be happy with your services, giving you referrals and recommendations. So the more work you do ahead of time, the better off you’ll be.
For those of you just starting out, don’t get discouraged. Look at this time as an amazing opportunity because you have the capacity to get clear on the stuff that most people just jump right on into. Take advantage of this time. Do some journaling. Write stuff down. Put it all in a project management tool. Use new tools, like Trello or Asana. Start documenting “ideal client” traits in a task or in Evernote. There are a million ways you can do this.
Truth Be Told…
Admittedly! It is hard to not want to just jump in and take whatever clients you can. But know that you’ll have abundance soon, and you’re going to get to choose. Knowing what’s important to you will allow you to really show up and do your best work.
As others. What are your non-negotiables? What are things your peers look for in ideal clients? As an example, for me Melissa, I don’t want to put out fires. That’s not my forte, and it doesn’t respect my boundaries. Ask clarifying questions on your discovery calls. No amount of money is worth working with a jerk. But you determine on your own, what you are willing to tolerate.
I know I want clients that are empathetic, down to earth, and humble. They come to the table with their cards all laid out and are fully transparent. That’s a quality I love. They tend to be more forgiving of you as well. These clients are the ones who are going to be open to building the right team, recognizing each member’s individual offerings.
And, I’m not afraid to tell you, I’ve had to gently fire clients. The personality seemed like a good fit at first, but it got to be a bit too much for my boundaries. And although it took me a while to figure out, I now know what red flags look like. That’s the beauty of running your own business: you don’t have to stick through the unbearable because you’re not their employee. You can choose to walk away if it isn’t working out. Do so gracefully and preserve the relationship, but know that you may interact with them again, so respect is key.
Empowerment is Possible
Feel empowered in making these decisions. You can choose. And in the early days, you’ll be getting less-than-ideal clients, but you’ll be boosting your toolbox of skills. And later on, you can gracefully say no to a client but introduce that client to a peer that might be the right fit. I just did that actually with a peer in my certified OBM community. The person who took on that client stated they’re a great match. So, tell me your stories. What does your ideal client look like? Have you had to fire a client? Download my Online Business Toolkit for more tips and answers to those questions. And don’t be shy! Tell me your thoughts in the comments below or reach out via my contact page. Talk soon!