If you had asked who my ideal client was in 2001, my first year as a practicing Free Agent CFO™, I would have said, “That’s easy – they can talk, they can breathe, they can certainly write a check.”
Talk, breath, write a check. That was my ideal client. Was I ever naive.
My Ideal Client
I’ve had clients write me checks for $8,000 to $12,000 in a single month. I’ve had $500/month clients. I love ’em both if they meet the following qualifications:
1. They Need Me
This is requirement number one. If I’m not needed, I don’t want to be on the team, even if they can write the check.
And that’s why I turn down work every year – I sense someone else could meet the needs at a far lower price point. Or, the owner could do the work internally.
Even in my current client base, I have clients that I have been serving for more than 10 years. In some of those cases, they really don’t need me (my opinion, but they disagree). I stay one because they want me, and that leads to my second point.
2. They Want Me
I know this sounds odd–how can you be hired if you are not wanted? Again, we’re describing the ideal client, and there is no feeling better in the world than to be both needed and wanted as a professional service provider. That’s pure validation of the value you are delivering to your client.
3. They Have an Insatiable Desire to Keep Learning
There is no coincidence that my best clients are readers and students of business. The majority of my new clients are non-readers. That changes when I come on board.
My best clients want to keep getting better and better, and much of that is through self-education through books, blogs, CEO groups, and smaller mastermind groups.
I guarantee it, when you have a client that loves to learn, you’ll be around for a long time in that relationship. More importantly, their thinking and creativity become sharper.
Finding Your Ideal Client Starts with Those Who Refer You
I have a small handful of bankers and other service providers who refer clients to me. They have this uncanny ability to know who I can help.
Jake Taylor is one of my favorite commercial insurance agents who never has a problem mentioning my name to one of his clients. Incidentally, I do the same for him–he’s the best.
Yet, I’ve never set down to tell Jake who my ideal client is. He knows my work and professionalism. And we’ve had discussions on what I do for growth-oriented business owners. Accordingly, everyone he’s recommended to me fits my ideal client profile.
So one of the keys to finding that perfect or ideal client is making sure you’ve clearly explained the value for the client you serve to those who are in your corner referring business to you. If you are becoming a magnet for small businesses that are driving you crazy, you may want to rethink the message you are conveying to your referral network.
It’s Not About the Size of Check
I value quality more than (dollar) quantity. The money situation always seems to take care of itself when you set clear parameters on who you will serve.
Who is your ideal client? And do you have a way of identifying them?