One of the hardest things for me to grasp when I was starting out was buying into the belief that not everyone was my client.
I wanted out of my soul-sucking job so bad I was willing to take anybody as a client – even though I knew deep down it was NOT the best fit for me.
I would work with any client that showed interest in working with me.
But… I learned very quickly that that’s not the right way to run a service-based business.
Because it’s all about relationships!
Have you ever done that?
Gone against your better judgment and said Yes to working with a client that you knew was not right?
What I mean by not right – is not right for you.
It’s all about working with the right clients – your dream clients.
But, when you’re just getting started and trying to land that first client it’s tempting to just say YES to whoever wants to hire you.
You’re hungry. You want to get your business up and running – to get experience as a Virtual Assistant.
And… maybe get yourself one step closer to escaping the cube farm. I get it!
I did this more times than I wish to admit and what happened was not pretty.
I ended up having to “fire” clients because it was not a good working relationship for either of us.
And… firing clients is NOT fun.
Listen To Your Instincts
I eventually learned to listen to my instincts and follow them when it came to working with clients.
That’s the most important thing you can do for yourself and your potential clients.
Listen to your instinct, your gut, your source or whatever you want to call it because it’s going to guide you to make the best decisions for YOU.
I know it’s scary to say NO to potential clients for a number of reasons but you started your business to work with the type of people you enjoy.
Not the ones you don’t.
Remember… it’s all about the relationship.
Make Your Dream Client Profile
To help me avoid making the same mistake I came up with what I called my “Dream Client Profile”.
It’s really more of a checklist than a profile.
You see, I’m not worried about whether or not their married or have kids or live in South Carolina.
What I want to know is if they’re a micro-manager or a nit-picker.
Yes… I know I’m using labels here but these are to help me identify the people that I know I don’t work well with.
So, I invite you to do the same.
Grab a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle.
On one side of the paper write down all the traits you know you LIKE to work with.
To help you get started, think of people you’ve worked with within the past or current clients that you really enjoy working with.
Then ask yourself, what did you like about them?
What made it enjoyable to work with them?
On the other side of the paper, list out all the traits you DON’T like to work with.
Remember… You’re entering into a relationship with a client, so you want to make sure that you’re only working with people that you enjoy.
I’m sure in your past you can think of people that fit both sides of the coin, people that you really liked to work with and people that you didn’t.
Try to identify the traits that you really liked or disliked.
For me, I just cut right to the chase and I only did a dislike list (it was easier and much shorter).
It was easier for me to think of the traits I didn’t like.
Now both sides of the list are important – you really should know the types of people you like to work with.
Focus On The Don’t Like List When Interviewing Potential Clients
Why? Because they should NOT have any of the traits on that list.
So, each time I interviewed a potential client I knew what to watch out for.
I do not work well with the following types:
- Fire Fighters (not real firefighters… I’m talking about people who run around like their hair is on fire where everything is urgent or late)
If someone has these traits it doesn’t make them BAD – it just makes them not a good fit for me.
Make sure you’re filling your business full of clients that you LOVE.
If you fill a space with someone that isn’t the right fit, then you don’t have room for one that is.
So… are you going to create your own list?
When it comes to interviewing potential clients – it’s important to have a rinse and repeat system.
One other thing I wanted to touch on is the number of scams showing up in our industry every day. For example:
- If you’re offered a job WITHOUT an interview – it’s a scam.
- If they ask you to send them money or pay for something upfront – it’s a scam.
- If they want to send you a check or wire you money without knowing anything about you – it’s a scam.
- If it’s too good to be true – probably a scam.
Ask around, Google their information to find out more.
Unfortunately, there are more and more scams popping up every day.
Always Remember You Are Not An Employee
You’re an independent contractor.
This is where things can get a bit sticky since many people come out of a professional type job and are used to managing employees.
They think it’s the same way they manage contractors… but it’s NOT.
You need to check the laws for your country to find out more details about employees vs. contractors.
Here in the United States, there is a very clear statute that the IRS wrote that clearly defines the differences.
The bottom line is your clients are not your employer and cannot dictate certain things to you.
If you find your clients are confused about what they can and can’t do – use it as a learning opportunity and send them to the appropriate site.
Here’s the link if you want to find out more about US rules and regulations.
Sorry… I know I said last thing but just thought of two other important things I want to include.
Don’t Discount Your Rate To Get A Client
It sets the wrong expectation.
They may believe that your rates are negotiable and they shouldn’t be.
Your rate, is your rate, is your rate.
Don’t lower it because someone doesn’t want to pay it.
They’re not your dream client!
Let them go.
My best advice is “Don’t work with anyone who is NOT your dream/perfect client”.
If you’re having trouble finding them, then maybe look at your process.
Where are you looking for clients?
If you’re on one of those eBay for people sites like Fiverr or Guru, then you’re competing with others that are just looking for the cheapest resource they can find.
You’re more than a cheap resource.
Go where you’ll find the clients that will pay you what you’re worth.
I like the fishing analogy here – if you’re currently charging $25 an hour and increase your rates to $50 an hour, you’ll need to move to a new pond where you can find your dream clients.
How are you approaching potential clients?
If you start off by selling something, I’d suggest a different approach.
You’re starting a relationship – start by giving them something of value.
- Solve a problem using your expertise.
- Give them a free checklist or share a blog post that shows your brilliance.
Whew… I know this was a lot of information but I hope you’ve found it helpful.
Hopefully, I’ve given you some things to think about.
The last thing you probably want to do is be unhappy in your business because you’re not working with the right clients.
I’d love to know if you did the list exercise – please share below as a comment. All comments and questions are welcome.
If you know someone who might benefit from this information, please share.
Thanks for reading – Susan