Not all business is created equal. The need to bring in business often leads to pressure to say “Yes” to every opportunity that shows up, even if it is not a great fit.
When you are trying to make payroll or rent or just pay the bills on time, it is hard to turn down business; and when starting out that can be OK for a while. But as you grow, those marginal clients can keep you from getting the clients that you really want.
When evaluating whether to bring on a client, a few simple questions can help you build the best value for your business.
1. Is the client’s required work what I want to be doing?
As a fractional CFO on occasion, clients have asked me to provide basic bookkeeping. Unless it is a quick fix, I recommend they either add someone to their staff, or refer them to an outside bookkeeping service. There are several reasons for this:
- It is much more expensive for the client; and
- It is time intensive for me – time that could be spent providing much more value to the client.
If you are developing a Marketing campaign, do you really want to be writing ad copy? As Director of Sales, is it the best use of your time to call new prospects? If you do find yourself taking on these tasks, set your client’s expectations that this is short-term, and you are only doing it to train staff or jumpstart a project. Let them know that you are working in their best interest to provide the highest value for the money they are paying you.
2. How much time will it take and what client opportunities will you be giving up?
We only have so much bandwidth. Spending time on time intensive, mundane tasks can force you to forgo the premier client who has the top-level need that fits your expertise and builds your reputation.
3. What will be the impact on how my market perceives my company?
I knew an attorney a few years ago who marketed his expertise in company formation – filing the documents with the state and the IRS, and providing the initial company record books. And he was particularly good at it – much better than an online service and not much more expensive. However, that was only a small part of his business – he was also a strong transactional and contract attorney. But because everyone thought of him for that simple task, it took him years to change the perceptions of his network and peers to reflect the more complex tasks he thrived on.
Knowing your sweet spot and focusing on clients that fit that profile will help you build the business you want; with the reputation you deserve.