Yesterday, I wrote about ensuring our customers truly understand all the services we offer. Today I ask: are your customers the perfect fit for your business?
I met with someone this week that I used to work with who has just started his own business. I asked him to describe his target prospect and what his ideal service would be.
He did a good job of identifying who might best benefit from his expertise and the nitch he'd like to carve out for himself in the human resource industry. But then he said something every new business owner can remember saying:
"I know the kind of work I want but right now I'll take anything."
When I first started my writing business I would say that I'll write anything except resumes. Internal/external communications; newsletters, scripts, speeches, manuals, you name it – if it needs words…I'll write them.
Well, over time I have realized that rather than try to be all to everyone and succeed at very little, being more focused in your service/product offering makes it easier for customers to chose you.
However, so many of us in business and in life try to take that square peg and make it fit into the round hole. You know what I mean. You take your pocket knife and whittle away at the sharp edges and try to force the peg into the hole. Or you find a round peg but its two sizes too big and yet you still try to make it fit.
What happens? Pain and misery for both parties. Each customer represents cash to the bottom line, you think in your head. But in reality, how much extra does it cost in time and effort and stress to continue to force a relationship that wasn't meant to be?
Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and separate yourself – fire the customer.
I had a similar situation earlier this year. It was a project that I enjoy – writing web content. I love the challenge of taking specific key words and marrying them with the unique story that the customer offers – the solutions they provide.
I liked the customer – great personality.
I liked the company – great service.
A, right? That's what I thought. Our approach to business was the same. Our understanding of the customer was the same. Our view points were in sync.
So what happened?
He wanted a different writing style than I could provide. I tried to change. He tried to adjust his expectations.
It was painful.
One day I woke up and didn't want to go to work.
I own my own business. I am my own boss. And I didn't want to go to work.
Not a good sign.
That's when I realized that I needed to have a difficult conversation with my customer. No one was at fault. We just weren't a perfect fit.
The relief we BOTH felt after that phone call was immense.
As a new business owner sometimes we are required to take on projects that aren't our favorite, to work with people not our cup of tea and charge less than we'd like, but at some point we need to gravitate toward our ultimate vision of our business.
At what point do you start to say "no thank you" and seek only those customers and projects that are a perfect fit?
Deborah Chaddock Brown
Writer, Still Looking for the Perfect Fit