Clients (and jobs) are like that extra-hot porridge, over-sized chair, or stiff bed: One size doesn’t fit all.
Many companies go after clients that are too big or too small for them. Even when they get the work, it’s not the most rewarding or profitable. This especially includes consultants, contractors, and others who go after projects of different sizes.
The jobs that are neither too big nor too small, we call these “‘Goldilocks”’ jobs — not too big, not too small, but just right.
Your goal is to identify that sweet spot customer whose project is just the right size for you and your business. To determine this, look at your jobs or your customers as boulders, rocks, or pebbles.
Boulders are huge clients that dominate your time. They can be great if you have them. But they may want so much of your time that you can’t develop other clients. If you lose a boulder, your business virtually dries up until you can develop some new clients. In addition, It often takes more effort to get boulders in the first place. They might attract more of your competitors, which tends to drive the price down and reduce profitability.
These are solid, profitable, mainstream clients. No single rock is more than 15% of your revenue. Often, these are fairly long-term projects that you can count on. Aim your marketing at your rocks. If other good clients fall into your lap, take them too.
Pebbles are small clients that may or may not be worth the effort. Often, pebbles are less profitable and more concerned about the money. The amount of profit from this work may not justify the marketing effort to get it, so don’t aim your marketing at them. However, if they drop into your lap, they may be fine.
Some say there’s even a fourth category: Sand. This is the grit, the tiny, the unprofitable. Sand clients wear down the gears of your business. Avoid sand at all costs!
- Aim your marketing efforts at your rocks — Goldilocks-sized, profitable clients who bring in less than 15% of your revenue.
- Don’t focus your marketing energy on boulders or pebbles. Either are fine if they are a good fit other than their size, but focus on the rocks and work the boulders and pebbles only when they fall into your lap.
- Don’t spend a lot of time chasing boulders — you will spend a lot of energy in the pursuit, and risk ending up with a client whose needs are not aligned with yours.
- Sand — tiny, unprofitable clients or projects which grind down the gears of your business — is to be avoided at all costs.