Raise your hand if you’re a small business owner who feels like you’ve been trying to do it all lately ✋ Yep, I’ve been there, too. You and I wear a lot of different hats on a daily basis and it can be overwhelming trying to keep your biz afloat while building a foundation that can last.
One of my favorite things about working for myself is the opportunity I’ve had to meet like-minded business owners who totally get the struggles and joys of this journey.
I’m a big believer that life is better together — and today, I’m excited to introduce you to my friend and fellow designer, Morgan Stapp!
Morgan is going to drop some timely wisdom on you today about how you can sanely define your ideal client and run a more sustainable, enjoyable business as a result.
(Uhm, yes please!)
Morgan, take it from here!
If you’re a business owner, online or otherwise, then I am all but certain you’ve heard the term “ideal client” more than once.
Maybe you refer to it as an “ideal customer” if you sell products rather than services, but it’s all the same really.
Defining your ideal client is one of most important parts of developing your business. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most frustrating and stressful parts. Today I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep reading to how I was able to identify my ideal clients in a way that felt comfortable rather than stressful, and that landed me working with the exact clients I was meant to.
It’s okay to start with a broad client base
I didn’t know who my ideal client was when I started my business, and I didn’t even know that it was something I should know. I just slapped together a quick website, took any projects I could get my hands on, and did a little happy dance every time someone paid an invoice. I worked with financial advisors, henna artists, insurance agents, realtors, printmakers, and more, none of which had anything in common at all.
If this is what you’re doing too, fear not! This is a perfectly acceptable way to start a business. Bear in mind though, while this is a good way to get your business up and running and to start bringing in some cash, it’s probably not a great way to maintain a business. Not one that you’re happy with anyway.
Identify your ideal client naturally
Eventually, after working with enough different types of people and businesses, I was slowly able to start to identify common qualities of people and businesses I loved working with, and common qualities that I didn’t love working with.
I realized that I did my best work, and felt most “in the zone” when I was working with businesses who had some or all of the following qualities:
- Small business or solopreneur
- Some sort of creative element (artists, hand-made goods, coaches, etc.)
- Somewhat outdoorsy/adventurous and care for the environment
- 110% passionate about their business
- A desire to collaborate throughout the branding and website design process
I was then able to wrap this all up into one short sentence describing who I am, what I do, and who I do it for.
“I’m a branding and web designer who works with adventurers, artisans, and
passionate small businesses owners.”
This is how I started building my ideal client profile, and it’s how you can build yours too!
You don’t need some fancy worksheet with all of the details of what color hair your ideal client has and where they like to shop. Not right away anyway. Those types of documents can be super helpful and useful, but there is no need to overwhelm yourself when you’re just starting out.
Instead, take notes of what client projects you loved, what you hated, and why. Compile these notes until you can start to see patterns, and use those patterns to build out your ideal client profile.
Work with clients you want, not clients you think you want
It’s so easy to start filling out an ideal client profile that says “My ideal client is new moms between the ages of 24-34 who have platinum blonde hair, shop at Banana Republic and don’t eat carbs” just because that’s who you THINK you want to work with.
In my experience, what you think you want never does you much good.
If you start defining your ideal client naturally instead, like I did, it will help you to narrow in on who you actually enjoy working with, and who your products or services actually resonate with rather than just the clients you think you want/need.
Don’t stress, you can do it!
Identifying your ideal client is absolutely an important step in building your business, but don’t let it’s importance trip you up. Take what business you can, pay attention to how you feel about your clients, and let your ideal client profile evolve naturally.
It’s also helpful to remember that your ideal client now might not be your ideal client two years from now so keep repeating this process to make sure you stay on top of who your audience is and what they want from you.
Morgan is a branding and web designer who works with adventurers, artisans, and passionate small businesses owners. She helps her clients bring their best vision for their business to life through branding and website design that infuses who they are with what they do and makes them proud to share their business with the world.
When she’s not daydreaming on Pinterest, you can find her exploring a new outdoor spot with her best four-legged adventure buddy Remi, cuddled up in front of the fireplace with some room-temperature coffee and a good book (currently reading: Wild by Cheryl Strayed) or trying her hand at some new forms of creative expression like pottery, watercolor painting, or photography.