By Michael Kline
Imagine if you only worked with clients who inspired you and appreciated your knowledge, skills and passion. Imagine a world where most days, you felt almost guilty getting paid to do the work you do because you find it so rewarding. Welcome to my world. I consider myself incredibly lucky to get to do the work I do. Most of my regular followers know it wasn’t always this way, of course. I have spent plenty of time being grumpy, wrongfully unappreciative of my life, and wasting time placing my energy in the wrong places. Decades of hard work and lots of difficult and expensive lessons have taught me that happiness is a decision. There are plenty of people in this world whom I was born to serve. That makes me happy. I want happiness. Like you, I’m happiest when I feel productive. Productivity drives happiness. Passion drives productivity. Let’s follow our passion.
Are you doing the math yet? Passion = Productivity = Happiness = Success. If you work in your area of passion, and you work with clients who feed the passion, you can only be successful and happy.
If you truly want to grow your business and enjoy your work, you would do well to limit your work to those clients who feed your passion. It may be time to drop the duds. Eventually, you will get frustrated, limit your service to them, or get short with them. If you’re trying to please clients who are not your target market, or who don’t truly value your service, they will eventually become unhappy with you and fire you anyway. It is far better to be proactive with your less-than-festive client relationships. Here’s what I suggest:
Make a list of your favorite clients. I don’t mean just financially speaking, but that’s an important part, so let’s get that out of the way. Analyze the profitability of the relationship – those who pay the most are not necessarily the most profitable – sometimes they end up costing you money depending on the time, energy and resources they demand. Make a list of the best clients you have now, and write down why you identify them as your best. Write down if the issue is financial, friendly, inspiring you to do your best work, refers others to you, make you more inventive, a joy to work with, etc. Now make a list of your least favorite clients and their traits and characteristics that earn them a spot on that list.
Can any of the negative clients be coached into becoming a better client? If not, can you afford to tell them that you can no longer service them? You’re not going to like this – but I would argue that you cannot afford to keep them. It’s time to refer them out to someone else with whom they may be a better fit. If you take the time and energy now wasted on your worst clients, and invested it in marketing yourself to your ideal target audience (prospects with traits similar to your best clients), you will greatly improve your cash flow, your energy, your productivity and live a longer, more fulfilling and happier life.
At this point, most of you are in one of two camps. One, you argue that this is easy for me to say, but reality requires you to “suck it up” and stick with the dud clients. Or, perhaps you believe me, but you’re panicking over the thought of losing revenue. There is a caveat. If you’re going to make your life enjoyable and make more money, you’ll need a good plan to find the replacement client who will pay you more to do better work. More important than the good plan however, is to create the room in your life for the better clients in the first place, and to create the desperate need in your gut to go get the new clients, so you can stop taking the lazy, unfulfilling path of least resistance you’ve been stuck on. It’s scary, lonely and difficult; why do you think everyone isn’t wildly successful and happy?
Michael Kline is a local retailer, success coach and trainer. He may be reached through his website, www.klineseminars.com, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.