Who are my ideal clients and who should be yours if you are in business?
One of the best pieces of business advice I got a few years ago was about defining an ideal client.
When people are new to an industry, they often want any clients. We all have to live, and put food on the table, after all.
I was the same. I wasn’t picky before. Now with 8,000,000 monthly readers and countless clients, I can be as selective as I want to be.
Here is a list of what I look for in clients. If clients don’t meet these criteria, I refuse the business, as they will cause too many problems:
- They are focused on the long-term. They aren’t short-term investors. At least 5-year horizons. 10 years+ is ideal. A very long-term relationship lasting decades is most preferred.
- They have at least $600 a month ($7,200 a year) or $75,000 as a lump sum to invest .
- They are not cynics. This excludes many lawyers, journalists and several others who assume the world is a dangerous place, full of scams! It is human nature to like people who are more like yourself. I don’t assume the worst. I don’t read every piece of small print. Just a few weeks ago, I got my laptop fixed in Seoul. The person with me commented on how trusting I am because I didn’t close my computer down when the IT engineer was looking at it.
- Following on from number 3, being trusting is simply realistic. Research has shown that if you lend money to a complete stranger, there is an 80%-90% chance they will pay back. The average person assumes the chance is only 50%. Crime is falling in most countries, but most people assume otherwise. The point is, the very worst cases like scams are 1% of total cases. People who assume otherwise before they are in, just cause more problems when they are clients.
- They understand the value of doing things online. Most face-to-face meetings are a waste of time and money. Things can be done cheaply and more efficient online.
- They realize the location isn’t important. This is linked to points 3 and 4. Somebody who is overly cynical likes to deal with somebody they know – maybe at the expat bar or another location – even if they deep down know better options may exist. This is better safe than sorry idea. My ideal client understands the value of saving them time and money, by doing things online
- They realize how you dress isn’t important. Pointless meetings, ties and business cards should have been discarded in the 1990s.
- They realize the importance of time – they are proactive. They realize, in the words of both Dale Carnegie and Sir Alex Ferguson, that if a decision is to be made, it should be made quickly. As soon as they have enough information to make a decision, they make it decisively, just like I do. They don’t procrastinate and think about things for weeks – also known as analysis paralysis.