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Another Way To Think About New Clients

I’ve argued that there are five universal high-maintenance clients to avoid. By now, you may be pretty good at recognizing them before they join your roster or you’ve figured out a handful of neutralizing tactics should they slip through the net.

But there is another danger lurking when you agree to serve a new client: what will you give up by saying yes?

You are probably crystal clear on what you’ll gain: a chance to solve a thorny problem (maybe even play the hero), a nice chunk of change to your bottom line, perhaps some prestige attached to the client or the project.Yet every opportunity also has a cost—and not all of it is obvious.Once you’ve built a sustainable business—and are really honing in on your long-term vision(think thought leadership and market authority)—it pays to run every opportunity through a series of gates before going all in. What resources will serving this client require? If this is the year you’ve decided to make a significant investment in your vision (like say a book, course or podcast), can you realistically do both? And even if the answer is yes, are you ready to make any needed adjustments in your work/life routines? What ripple effects might come back to bite you? Does this allow you to work from your genius zone? If you’re all about strategy and this is an execution gig, you already know you do yourself no favors by saying yes. Pinpointing exactly the clients, the conditions and the transformations you’re best at midwifing allows you to zero in on the situations where you can optimize your impact. How does the work for this client advance your authority or leadership in your niche? What will you learn on this engagement? The further along you are on the road to authority, the pickier you want to be about who gets to absorb your time. Is this a client better served by someone earlier in their career or is the problem big enough that your talents are required?Asking these questions—and drilling down to their true answers for you—will keep you constantly moving toward the outcomes you want from your consulting business.

Related: Finding the Right Levers in Your Advisory