As your business grows it’s important to review the core processes that compose it.
This includes your ideal client definition.
Growth and change
Working in one area for months will let you spot trends and events.
Your business is no different.
Throughout your career you will grow personally and professionally. So will your business.
You might learn new skills, add new services, build deep expertise, merge unrelated ideas into a new combination, etc.
This change, this growth, means that your business provides and serves different people and different problems over time.
If you never review your ideal client definition, it will become outdated and slate. And rating clients based on what your business was isn’t going to get you the best clients for how your business is.
When trouble strikes
The most common time to review your ideal client definition is when trouble strikes.
A bad client.
A business emergency or catastrophe.
The perfect storm of shit, sharks, and rotating air circulators.
Anytime you have a minor or major problem with a client, you should review your definition.
- Was there a clear signal of this problem?
- Could I have prevented with better screening?
- Do I ever want to deal with this again?
Not to gloom and doom though, many problems are minor and don’t change your overall definition. Maybe they’ll refine and sharpen it in a few places.
But maybe there is a major change needed. And that’s okay.
On the other side, don’t wait for problems to come to you.
You know your business is growing, changing, and you’re adapting to it. What you need to do is to regularly review your ideal client definition for changes.
Just like when there is a problem look at each item and see if they still fit what you’re doing now.
- Does this adequately describe my ideal clients?
- Should I tighten this item to make it more restrictive?
- Should I loosen this item to make it more flexible?
- Do I even care about this item anymore?
- Are there new items I’m missing?
Depending on your volume of your business and how you feel about it, I recommend scheduling a regular review every six months. Twelve months is a bit long for most freelancers because a lot can change in a year. But three months might be too quickly to know if the changes are consistent or just a fluke.
Every major project
In addition to the “oh shit” review and a regular review, there is one other time where a review can be useful.
Once you finish a significant project for a client, review what happened and if there is anything your definition needs changing.
More likely than not, you’ll just be refining it during this stage.
But if your client was difficult and you had to “suck it up and deal with it” during the project, you’ve probably discovered a lot of things you can change with your definition.
Make your ideal client definition a living document. Change it. Change it back. Add to it. Remove from it.
Just don’t let it sit on your hard drive and rot. Because then it becomes useless for you and you’ll get away from working with your ideal clients.