Taking Every Client That Walks Through the Door
When we’re in the early stages of building a new business, it can be tempting to accept every client that approaches us for work. We all aim to get a steady stream of clients to keep our business profitable, but sometimes it’s wise to take a step back to consider our original reasons for starting a business. Whatever industry we’re in, new and repeat clients are critical to our long-term success, but we also need to strike a balance between our professional and personal lives.
It could be incredibly damaging to your business and lifestyle to take on every client that walks through the door. If your business is in its early stages and you don’t meet client expectations, your reputation will suffer. Before you take on a new client, consider the consequences of accepting more work than you can handle.
The Problem With Taking On Too Many Clients
Whatever line of business you’re in, you only have 24 hours in a day, and only a proportion of that time can be dedicated to client projects. When you take on more projects than necessary, you’ll find that other areas become compromised. There are various negative consequences of failing to limit the number of clients you work with:
- Taking on too many clients means you may not be able to fulfil the terms and conditions agreed with your existing clients
- Having more work than you can realistically handle will damage the quality of your work across the board
- Making promises you cannot fulfil will damage your credibility
- Being unable to meet client demands can damage your confidence and motivation levels
- Taking on too much work can have a negative impact on professional and personal relationships
The final point is especially relevant to people who start a business with certain lifestyle goals in mind. Many people start their own business so that they can have the flexibility to work from home, or at least to have a better balance between work and home life. When you take on too many clients, it’s inevitable that your personal life will get pushed to one side from time to time. This may help you meet work deadlines in the short term, but it could seriously harm your relationships with family and friends. Getting the balance right between work and home life means you can enjoy more time with your family, have a decent social life, and reduce the harmful physical and mental health repercussions of work-related stress.
How Do You Know When You’re Taking On Too Many Clients?
It’s not uncommon for new business owners to take on more work than they can realistically handle. But how do you know when to stop chasing more and more clients? Isn’t it always best practice to get as many potential leads as possible, and advertise your products and services to as many potential customers as possible? The simple answer is no. It’s worth considering the following questions:
. Do you regularly feel out of control when it comes to your workload?
. Do you sometimes feel that your business is heading in the wrong direction?
. Do you sometimes cut corners with certain client projects?
. Do you frequently feel over-stressed?
. Are you sometimes missing out on spending quality time with family and friends?
. Do you sometimes lack motivation?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it could be time to reconsider your motivations for starting a business and be honest about your long term ambitions. When you’re taking on too many clients, it’s likely that there will be negative consequences in some aspect of your work or personal life. You will also be harming your ability to grow your business successfully. Don’t worry if this rings true for you. There are many other newbies in business and even experienced business owners who unintentionally take on more work than is appropriate. With a little self-analysis and self-discipline, you can work toward a more rewarding scenario.
Focusing Too Heavily on Gaining New Clients
A common mistake when running a business is focusing too much on gaining new clients rather than catering to existing clients. Yes, it’s still important to market to new clients to grow your business, but not at the expense of existing client relationships. We need to remember that new clients aren’t the only way to generate sales.
Consider your existing client base. Many of your existing customers will have already received an excellent service from your business and are therefore likely to use your services again. If you served them well, they are also more likely to recommend your products and services to others. This can happen without you even having to market your business through other channels. It simply happens as a result of doing good work for your existing clients.
How Many Clients Do You Really Want to Serve?
It sounds like a simple question, and different people will have different answers and various reasons for there answers. There is no right answer – it all depends on your long-term plans and priorities in life. But knowing the answer to this question will help you form the kind of business that suits your unique ambitions.
For example, you might want to build a business that does not grow beyond a certain size – that only serves a small segment of the local population. On the other hand, you might have ambitions to serve customers on a national level, with multiple offices across the country. Whatever your ultimate ambitions are, there will be different paths to your dream destination.
Knowing how many clients you want to serve helps you set up your business with the right foundations in place. It helps you develop a realistic business plan with the right financial structure in place, the correct employee structure, and develop more appropriate marketing strategies. It will also help you to clearly define what kind of future you want to enjoy. Some people want more clients to fulfil their ambitions – for others, less is more. There is no right or wrong answer. But it is important to answer this fundamental question before your business begins to grow. Otherwise, you might wake up in ten years time and find yourself with a business and lifestyle you don’t really want.
Accepting the Right Clients
Learning to take on the most suitable clients and turning down others is a skill that can take some people years to master, but it’s a vital skill to get to grips with if you want a more successful, streamlined business. It’s tempting to accept any new project that lands on your desk, but this can be a dangerous strategy. By acknowledging your personal strengths, you should ideally take on work that is in tune with your interests and work with people that inspire you rather than drain your energy. Take time to consider your priorities before accepting any new client that walks through the door. When you have a large number of projects on the go and your stress levels are high, you might wish that you had not agreed to work for that particularly demanding and difficult client.
Knowing Your Limitations
In order to manage your time effectively, you need to know your personal limits. It’s helpful to look at your work and home life and answer these questions honestly:
. How many hours a week do you want to work, on average?
. How many hours a week do you need to put aside to manage your business (this includes administration, planning, and team management)?
When you know roughly how much time you have to focus specifically on client projects, you should find it easier to plan your working schedule more efficiently from one month to the next. It’s essential to keep track of all your client projects. Any deadlines that aren’t met could have a significant impact on your overall work schedule and damage your reputation. This is why it’s crucial to review your existing contracts before you decide to take on any new work. If you work as part of a team, it’s just as important to keep track of projects you may not be personally involved with and communicate with team members before any new work is agreed.
Time Management Solutions
However hard we try, it is sometimes inevitable that we find ourselves on a tight schedule that is close to becoming unmanageable. Here are some tips to keep your stress levels to a minimum and make sure you still keep everyone happy:
- Maximize Your Productivity
When you’re busy, you need to make sure every minute is used in the most efficient way. It may mean working more intensively, but it’s a smart way to get things done and keep your clients happy. There are various time-management strategies that can help. For example:
. Use the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your schedule
. Put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign when you have to complete a certain task
. Don’t answer every phone call or reply to every email immediately. Instead, schedule a time to return calls and answer emails
. Delegate tasks to others, when they have the time and you don’t
- Be Flexible
It’s not always possible to be in complete control, especially when you’re relying on third parties for information or help. When you’re unable to proceed with one project for whatever reason, switch your attention to another project, even if it’s not urgent. This will free up time later.
- Know When to Say No
Sometimes, clients will try to slip extra work into a project that was not initially agreed upon. While it’s tempting to keep every client happy, agreeing to additional work in the middle of one project could seriously impede your ability to complete other projects on time. If this is the case, just say no.
- Get Support
It’s not always possible to accept work from a client – you simply won’t have the time. In these cases, look at the possibility of working with others in your industry to help with certain aspects of your business. For example, could you use a third party agency to handle your online presence? Using the services of professional accountants could also give you more time to concentrate on running your business. Knowing when to get additional support can be tricky, but if you find yourself frequently falling behind with certain tasks, it’s probably a smart move to get help before you damage your credibility.
Taking It Further
It’s important for anyone running a business, to be honest with themselves about their expectations and hopes for the future. In the early stages, you may not be overwhelmed with work, but keep these strategies in mind for when you find yourself trying to juggle several projects at once and new clients keep knocking at your door.
Ultimately, it comes down to sensible planning and setting realistic expectations. Don’t make the mistake that many newbies in business make and accept every client that comes your way. Develop a working schedule that you’re comfortable with and take on clients that bring out your strengths. This way, you can build a client base that helps your business thrive.