If you had your pick of any clients, assuming they all paid well and on time, you’d probably want to work with the ones who were the most fun. As any business person knows, having clients with whom you enjoy a smooth working relationship can make a world of difference to your quality of life. Here are a few ideas on how to pick the clients that will not only up your happiness quotient, but will contribute to you building a strong and distinct brand for your business.
Don’t Be Afraid to Specialize
I used to work in the field of holistic health, managing an acupuncture office. Over the years, I became acquainted with many complementary healthcare practitioners. We had a list of people we would refer patients to for specific complaints – sports injuries, fertility, digestive problems, addiction. Every acupuncturist I know has a certain group of conditions that he or she feels drawn to treating. They develop a resonance and a rhythm with treating those conditions. Their patients recommend their friends and colleagues who suffer with similar symptoms, and they also receive good treatment. And that’s how practitioners develop a specialty.
The same is true for event planners and other service related entrepreneurs. On paper, ten planners may be equally suited on a technical level to manage a big event. The reality is, each one of those planners has a different temperament and a distinct set of skills that suit them to working with specific types of people and situations. Learn what you are specifically good at doing. Perhaps you enjoy creating really beautiful, intimate events in people’s homes. Maybe you are better suited to large scale business conferences. Follow your successes, and you will begin to understand who your people are, and how to deliver what they want.
Go for the Ideal Situation
We often hear talk of pursuing our passion, as a kind of mantra for creating our ideal business. This is not just hyperbole – it’s a practical method to developing a successful enterprise. Years ago, I learned this fundamental rule of documentary filmmaking: If you don’t absolutely HAVE to make this film (like, it’s burning in your soul), don’t do it. Because your project is going to be an uphill battle with one challenge after another, and if you aren’t truly committed to making it happen, you’re going to give it up once the pressure hits.
Running your own business is kind of like that. Every time you think you know what you’re doing, you will be faced with a new challenge, a new learning curve, a new test of your will to succeed. Why stack the deck against yourself with clients who are either unpleasant to be around or have a project that does not excite you? Unless you are being paid a boatload of money, have nerves of steel, and a really great way to blow off steam at the end of the day that doesn’t land you in jail, detox or family court (in which case, more power to you), then I suggest that you set your sights on working with clients who you really enjoy and whose projects you find stimulating in some way.
Pay Attention to the Dynamics of Your Relationship
Some clients are looking for a collaborator. Some clients are looking for hired help. Make sure you understand the difference, and that you and your client are on the same page. This one is really important. As long as you understand the role you are being hired to play, and you are cool with what is being asked of you, then things will go well. However, if you go into a working situation thinking you have a collaborative partner, but your client is more interested in just having you complete their checklist, then you are going to be in for plenty of conflict.
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There’s nothing worse than having unhappiness embedded in the fabric of your work. Remember, as much as you are trying to get clients to hire you, you are also looking to choose the best clients for you. Setting goals about the kind of people you want to deal with and the types of projects you wish to undertake is an essential part of taking control of your business.