Another thing that struck me, when interviewing small business owners, was the number of people who had no idea who their customer is. I got answers like: ‘anyone with a wallet’, ‘anyone who needs my services’. It is obvious that we want people to pay for our services, but the question here is – who is this ‘anyone’? After a bit of probing I heard that this anyone is pretty much everyone, because we don’t want to exclude anyone. In fear of not including everyone, we end up not being relevant to anyone. (Pun intended!) Even Henry Ford, the forefather of automated assembly lines in car manufacturing, who supposedly had said that you can have any car as long as it’s black, had to introduce different colours to please more people. So, if you sell the equivalent of a black car, then you have to find out who are these people who want to buy them.
What do I mean by ‘black car’? If you are in the business by yourself and you are selling a product or one or more services, you are selling a black car. Even if your product comes in different colours and your services are appealing to a large number of people. Let’s take accounting. Most people and all business need accounting. If you are an accountant, you can potentially serve anyone who has a business or needs help in personal taxes, right? Yes, if you were a machine and people buying services from you were as well. Then your personality, way of doing things and experience does not matter. But it does! People are looking for an accountant they can trust. Yet, some people end up trusting people who do not seem trustworthy to others. It does not mean that one does not do their job just as well as the other. People want to be understood and work with people whose behaviour they like.
Stop being all things to all people and write down the characteristics of your Ideal Client. Once you know who your Ideal Client is, it is much easier to find them in a networking event and spend time on building a relationship with them. It also becomes easier to talk to your web-designer about what kind of website you need or what kind of marketing materials are appropriate. You’ll end up working with people that you feel happy to help and will not have to force yourself to work for money only. You’ll also find that your clients are happier with you – because you understand them and can offer them what they need.