Lesson Learned: Everybody Is Not My Ideal Client
Tai Goodwin
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Lesson Learned: Everybody Is Not My Ideal Client

I’ve learned the hard way to stay focused on my ideal client.

The ramifications of taking on clients where the only fit is their ability to pay me have hit me hard emotionally and financially. It’s one of the reasons I lovingly nudge my clients to get crystal clear about their audience. I know the sooner they invest attention in building relationships with their ideal client, the faster they will grow a profitable practice.

A few weeks ago I had to apply the, “everybody is not my client rule,” and turn down someone who was really interested in working with me and had no objection to the price of my services. Why did I say no? She was ambitious and definitely had passion, but she was unwilling to do the work required to build a sustainable profitable business. Every time I asked questions that required her to make a decision, I got a long list of ideas and excuses. Like so many struggling solopreneurs and practitioners, she couldn’t give me a clear answer to three simple but critical questions:

  • Who is her target audience?
  • What data did she use to determine her rates?
  • What marketing strategies had been the most successful in helping generate VIPs?

Clearly, she needed help. Yes, I have expertise, tools, and systems that could help her. And yes, she could afford to pay me. But two of the things I value were missing from the list: a willingness to be open to new ideas and looking for opportunities instead of excuses. Based on our initial conversation, all signs were pointing to a coaching relationship that would have been frustrating and unproductive for both of us.

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About the Author Tai Goodwin

Tai Goodwin on a mission to help 10,000 women entrepreneurs create more joy and wealth in their life and business. She's the CEO of Aligned + Bankable and creator of the Bankable Brilliance Course. An intuitive business growth strategist and teacher, her specialty is helping clients create bankable business models that allow them to increase their impact and income without burning out. Tai is a former corporate trainer with a master's degree in instructional design and over 20 years of experience designing course, training programs, and certifications. She is also the author of Girlfriend, It's Your Time and founder of Brilliant Business Girlfriends.

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Derek Lewinson says

I am thankful and grateful for this article. I am learning the hard way that not everyone is the right client. Unnecessary pain and damage to my rep. My mistake? Ignoring my intuition and previous experiences with the project manager…the individual chose me…I should not have chosen them. #lessonlearned.

Dianne Dawson says

Great article! Excuses and whining are the first indicators of what’s to come if you choose to work with the person. I look for a strong desire to achieve a desired outcome and a willingness to do what it takes. Without these two traits, nothing significant is going to happen for the client. I want my clients to succeed, but I can’t want it more than they do; they have to be willing to step-up, even when doing so is scary.

Marjorie Geiser says

Good one, Tai. Yes, too often people will take on clients who are not a good fit. I did once. HARD lesson learned, but today I’m VERY careful who I accept to work with.

Jason Anderson says

Excellent yet hard decision to make. That’s why an onboarding interview is so critical. It’s NOT a marketing gimmick if deployed properly. Unfortunately, lots of coaches use an “application” as a lead generation piece and forget about the “application” part when the money is there.

    Tai Goodwin says

    Thanks for stopping by Jason. Some coaches say that applications deter potential clients. I think if you’ve established enough trust and credibility, the VIPs you attract that are serious about working with you, will respect your process and welcome the opportunity to ensure that the fit is right for both sides.

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