Do you know who your ideal client is? Most business owners don't really know. They guess!
And because they guess, they're working way to hard, marketing too much, spending too much money. I know I've been there, done that.
Now, my bottom line definition of an ideal client would include a client who:
-Easily pays you top dollar, and on time, for your services.
-Comes to you already understanding what you services can help them accomplish.
-Refers you to others without you even asking.
-Comes back for more of your services, whenever they're ready for another “shot" of what you offer.
-Gives you “energy" - emotionally and financially!
I made two big mistakes when I started my business. I didn't create two of the most important “business keys" upfront - a business plan and an ideal client profile. The result? Well, I ended up broke, used the money from the sale of my home to live. Of course, since then, I've made some hefty changes!
One of those changes was getting over my “fear" about narrowing my client base. You see, I thought that if I created such a small base to get clients, I'd be broke and bored - a place I found myself in anyway, because I was doing thing “my way".
Here’s what I learned:
Niching does not mean that I can't accept clients outside my niche. Niching is done to make MY life - and YOUR life - easier. It's another one of those business tools that is created to help save money and time. For marketing purposes, for the sake of clarity, for a business owner's health and well being, so you're not all over the place “chasing" marketing - spending dollar after dollar after dollar. Heck, isn't there more than enough “stuff" for us to do as business owners?
I remember the first time I went into a networking meeting and introduced myself simply as a “Business Consultant and Coach" who helped “women who own service business and service professionals. " I left the “life" off in front of “Coach. " I left the word “career" out of the sentence about who I helped.
I was so nervous! And what happened? Well, I survived the meeting, obviously. And, after the meeting, someone asked if I could coach their husband who was in transition between CAREERS! Boy, did that teach me a valuable lesson. If you are clear and confident (or seem that way) people will provide you with wonderful business opportunities that you can say yes to. . . or no to.
Do I ever go out of my niche for meetings or to speak? Yes, although rarely these days. There are 5 or 6 life topics that I speak on - usually at recovery conferences or for stressed out business owners who are just tired of the same old speakers speaking about business :)
Even after you define your niche, that doesn't mean that you can't choose to take on clients outside that niche - if that's what you want to do.
And even after you choose a niche, that doesn't mean that you can't change it. I did just this year. I'm big on monitoring my efforts and I noticed that 40% of my best - ideal clients - clients are men, while 60% are women. That's a big change over 2 years ago, when most of my clients were women. So I decided to “drop" the women service business part of my niche. And that allows me to change who I market to; for example, I no longer look for organizations that have the word “women" in their name. I'm actually more interested in knowing how many business owners are in their membership who have been in business at least 2 years.
What else happens when you niche and really monitor your business? You have time to start notice patterns in what your clients are doing. Here's two examples I've noticed recently: 1) 95% of my new clients want to create multiple streams of business income from their knowledge and expertise - ebooks, CDs, audios, etc. , 2) All the solo-preneurs who hire me are ready to hire consultants or employees. Now, what am I going to do with that information? Use it in the way I market. Use it to create programs that will attract my niche.
Niching is also about knowing what makes you special - or what's known as your USP - unique selling proposition. Knowing what makes me special in the large world of business consulting, coaching and training, has led folks to know me as “that NY Coach" (I currently live in Washington State, so my accent and attitude stick out just a teensy bit). I've taken another part of what I'm known for - as the person service business go to for resources and to get organized by creating systems and plans - and become The Resource Queen. I'm known as the business consultant who can speak “geek" but does it in plain English. Heck, to be remembered - for some wonderful worthwhile things - that's part of what counts!
So. . . . take a risk - and niche!
©2005 Maria Marsala, former Wall Street Trader. We help women CEOs and Presidents run more effective and efficient businesses while positioning themselves to achieve financial/personal success. Join “SIMPLE Solutions Ezine" to receive an audio and 2 reports. http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com