I still remember the much anticipated day I said good-bye to my 9-5 and embarked on the journey to entrepreneurship. I was “FREE AT LAST!” and ready to build the life I had always dreamed of. As I began to step into building my business, I kept hearing the same question over and over again:
“who is your ideal client?”
As a marketer, I can tell you the two things:
One, you HAVE to know who your ideal client is.
Two, I can give you the text book answer to this question, which is: create buyer personas based on who your ideal client is.
The truth that I discovered is that the textbook answer to finding out who your ideal client is doesn’t really work. It’s all just a bunch of guesstimating (yes, I just made up that word. Or at least I think I did, but pages didn’t try to correct it, so maybe it is a word).
I tried to come up with an answer and provide it every time I was asked only to find myself lost, confused, and overwhelmed. How am I supposed to know who my ideal client is? Do I just pull a random number out of a hat?
After a lesson learned, I have come back to share what I discovered with you.
The truth is that your ideal client isn’t someone you make up. How can you sell to someone who isn’t real? And what I discovered is that honestly and truly, the best way to figure it out is to go out there and start working with people. Get hands on experience. See what it’s really like to work with different people in different industries, positions, and personalities. It’s okay to take on a client and then discover it isn’t someone you want to work with. You are your own boss now and you get to decide how you build your business, remember? So build a business you will love. And doing that will come with a lot of trial and error, but it is so worth it.
Here are a few tips on how to find your ideal client, a REAL one:
1. Start with who you think your ideal client might be
For example, from the beginning I knew that I enjoy working with women entrepreneurs. I also knew that I enjoy working with women whose mission I can get behind. After all, it makes my job so much easier when I get to market something I believe in. However, these characteristics were still much too vague. But, they gave me a starting point. So I started there and then was able to narrow it down.
2. Don’t be afraid to say “yes”, and then don’t be afraid to say “no”
I’ve noticed that as a whole people are afraid to make decisions. There are some decisions in life that are permanent, but so many of our other decisions are not. It’s okay to take on a client if you think they might be your ideal client. And if you find out they are not, it’s okay to end the partnerhsip. You didn’t leave a job you hate in order to create a job you hate. And trying things out is the only way you will know and learn. So don’t be afraid to try.
3. Base your ideal client on how much $ you want to make
Your ideal client should be someone who can afford you. That means that you need to calculate how much money you not only need to make but want to make and then charge that. I get it, you want to help everybody. So do I. But the reality is that helping everybody while hardly making any money is only going to burn you out. So know wha you want to make and charge it. And then be okay with people saying they can’t afford you because then you will have room for the ones who can.
As an entrepreneur, we all know by now that the business world is all about constantly learning and growing. Every part of it is a learning curve so don’t expect yourself to be an expert every time you come across something new. Learn who your ideal client is instead of pulling them out of a hat or making it up in your mind. Learn them, and you will learn what they need and how you can provide it. That, my friends, is a business model you can build and grow.
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