More clients. More money. More staff. More, more, more. This appears to be the mantra of every aspirant entrepreneur, whose personality traits are seldom well-suited to basking in the status quo. But is more necessarily merrier?
As someone with a near pathological inability to simply enjoy the moment, I spend most days plotting ways in which to acquire new business, despite the many well documented struggles the addition of more humans to one’s life creates.
In many cases, my desperation for new challenges has seen me embroiling myself in a series of ill-advised partnerships, among them a lengthy stint masquerading on social media as a Kenyan woman extolling the virtues of confidence and dry pits. Undeniably challenging to be sure, but do the rewards really justify such indignities?
Ultimately, a new client is something that is to be approached with extreme caution. Like a wild animal, it might appear cute at first, but one errant move and the whole situation can turn nasty fast. The work is one thing – degrading as it might be – but one tends to forget that each and every new client comes along with its own set of complicated, mystifying humans, many of whom will have a very different perspective on how the world works.
Naturally, one’s inclination is always to jump in head-first and have a go at whatever new and potentially bizarre task now lies before you. But to simply barrel on without pause is a foolhardy exercise. Not only do you run the risk of partnering up with those firmly on the wrong side of the psychological spectrum, but you also render yourself vulnerable to cashflow crises and various other equally unwelcome developments.
So before you pat yourself on the back for your brilliant client hunting skills, you might want to ask yourself a couple of key questions ahead of signing on the dotted line:
Sure, you may be lucky. Admittedly, you may just be the best person for the job. But there could also be a very good reason why this client you’ve nabbed was going begging. Certain clients have an uncanny knack for sending agencies packing, and are likely to boast an illustrious history of associations as a result. If their past suppliers list reads like a who’s who, run for your life.
Does a smaller pay cheque really mean less work?
Nabbing those blue-chip clients can mean jumping through countless hoops, leaving entrepreneurs with little option but to tinker around in the shallows, hooking the smaller fish to keep the coffers full. But just because a client is small in stature (and in terms of their relative contribution to your bank account), don’t assume they’re not going to be an enormous handful.
Whereas larger operations are familiar with big budgets and tend to understand that results take time, small businesses are watching every cent they spend, and expecting ample and instant returns. And while their investment in your business might be relatively low, it’s likely that they consider it to be enormous, and as such will think nothing of consuming countless hours of your time requesting additional input, reporting or advice. So unless the idea of constantly fighting to justify the virtue of your work appeals to you, you might want to take a hard pass on that meagre retainer and wait until you have bigger fish to fry.
Is this feasible?
So you’ve got a potential client that ticks all the proverbial boxes – big budget, appealing personality and working systems designed to make your life easier. There’s just one catch – their product is either completely incomprehensible or wildly uninteresting, meaning your life on the marketing front lines is going to prove pretty tricky at best.
While it’s easy to fall for the allure of dollar signs, it’s important to assess whether the client ask is actually possible – after all, are you really going to be able to sell quick-drying cement on social media?
So before you sign on for a lifetime of hurt and disappointment (not to mention mind-numbing boredom), make sure both you and the client understand the limitations of their request, and walk away if the two don’t match. Big retainers are nice, but so is a good reputation, and by selling yourself out for the sake of a cash infusion, you could quickly see that heading due south.