So you know now what it is you want to do. You’re totally jazzed, you can’t wait to get started, you see yourself doing your thing every day and living an amazing life on your own terms. Let’s hear it for you!
Now….the next question seems pretty obvious…who do you do this for, anyway?
Aaah…right! Not always a simple and straightforward answer. Who exactly will be my best and most loyal clients, and what do they want from me?
And at this point a lot of us enlist what is affectionately (or perhaps NOT so much) known as the “Ideal Client” exercise. Breaking it down, step by step, characteristic by characteristic, sometimes dwelling on every…little…detail you can think of. Ugh.
Now, when did coming up with the answer for that one can become as tricky and frustrating as coming up with the idea itself?
I’ve been through MANY different Ideal Client exercises, more than I can count. Some call it the “Ideal Client Avatar”–that is, the prototypical person you’d like to work with, the model client, the perfect person you’d create if you could who’d show up and fall madly in love with your products, services, and the general ethos of you.
It’s your job to figure out who they are what they want so that you can provide to them in abundance. And seriously, this part is a HUGE part of the process of really getting the business going. You can’t know exactly how to create the things your ideal clients need (not to mention market to them) if you don’t know who they are. That’s where these exercises come in.
So you start writing. Start creating. You visualize that person. You get into their heads. You attempt to figure them out. You might even have a picture (maybe even an actual photograph) of them and give them a name. And a backstory. Maybe even a starring role in their own 5-season TV show. It can get a little bit crazy. Sometimes a bit ridiculous. (As in, I have NO idea what her favorite ice cream flavor is!!)
Don’t get me wrong…this has to be done. It’s just that important to know who your people are, really.
Even so, for me, sometimes something just seemed to be missing from it all of my Dream Client Creation journeys. Sometimes, when I thought about my ideal client ONLY on paper, the whole process just seemed so….I don’t know. Manufactured. As though I was creating a robot. Someone who looked, acted, and was everything that I thought they should be, yet not particularly interesting…..all the while racking my brain to come up with a long enough list of details…ARGH!!
Now, how did THAT happen? What was hanging me up about trying to create the ideal client?
Well, here’s what I discovered: somehow, I felt that the process actually felt a little bit contrived. As though I might be dwelling on the details that might not necessarily be all that important to me. And that my ideal client didn’t so much have a particular look or age as she did a style, a dream, and a mindset. I started to actually attempt to FEEL the way my ideal client would feel. And just feel it all to start with. And I watched what happened next…..
So what did I find? That I could find out a LOT about my ideal client by looking at myself—an earlier version of me.
Let’s face it, folks–the struggles you understand the best and the most intimately are the ones that you’ve had yourself….and the struggles that you become the most impassioned about solving for people are the ones that you’ve solved yourself. And if doing this is important enough to you that you wanted to make it (literally) your business, then you already know what your ideal client wants–or at the VERY least you now have a MUCH better idea!
What would you have paid a few years ago to have someone like who you are now show up and help you? Would it have been something you’d have been willing to pay handsomely for, the struggle was so real? Would you have jumped at the chance to work with you back then?
If the answer is a resounding “YES”, then you’re halfway there already!
Once again, we bring it back to you. Because it always holds true that every Ideal Client challenge I’ve ever taken on has showed eventually me the same thing–that with respect to the problem I solve, she’s simply a previous version of me.
Much more useful, really, then a list of demographic information on paper, right?
So now that you know this, where do you go?
Now, one thing I DO want to make clear–just because your ideal clients are earlier versions of you doesn’t mean that they’re EXACTLY you. You’re going to find some variation out in the real world. Different spins on the same problems, different perspectives, different slants that might not have ever occurred to you. This requires stepping away from the lists, though and looking out into the world. You know, starting to consider your ICs and where they might actually be so that you can talk to them. Get to know them. Start getting this very information.
And the first place to look might very well be your own back yard!
How about people we already know, our friends, families, co-workers, business associates, the lot of them? Is there anybody already in your world who just might be the kind of person you’re looking to work with? Anybody at all? Even a little bit?
Even if someone has SOME of the characteristics that you’re thinking of, even if they have SOME of the same interests, even just one or two, they might be worth talking to. And even if there’s someone who you have a feeling about—even though you might not be sure why–include them, too! You just never know, and you might be right. Maybe you won’t. But pay attention to that feeling you get and follow up on it. It’s that particular inkling–the one that seems to jazz you up when you consider them as a client–that you want to follow. Because that’s the one you’ll be shooting for when you’re interviewing future potential superstars to work with!
So get together with those people who are already in your life. Talk to them. Set up a time for a phone or skype session, or better yet a cup of coffee.
Give this a try:
-Do you know anybody who might be close to your wavelength in terms of your idea? Friend, family member, coworker, acquaintance? Anybody? Make a list.
-Even if you can’t think of anybody who has exactly everything you’re looking for, that’s OK. Pick someone who’s close….or even someone that you “have a feeling” about, but you don’t know why. Set up a time for a conversation. Go put it on the calendar.
-Three reasons why doing this this is so important:
1) Even if they’re not quite “ideal”, you never know what you might learn from the conversation–get some solid feedback on your idea and see where the chat goes
2) Even if they’re not your dream client, they might know someone who is
3) It gets you out into the world, talking about your ideas and what you’re creating. Not only is this great practice talking about your business, but also it starts to make everything REAL–when you say it out loud to another person, it starts getting clearer…and more real…and closer to becoming an actual thing. Give it life! (And note that this is a very bad-ass courageous move, too!)
So what do you think? How did you figure out who you wanted to work with the most? Still deciding? Tell me about it below!