Self Made: NASE's Blog

A Dangerous Client You Might Not Know You Have [Ask The Experts]

Friday, September 28, 2012

For many micro businesses, one of the first successes is landing a big client that creates a steady cash flow. Then you get so busy that you don’t make time to diversify your customer base. If your business is dependent on one or two clients … they could be the most dangerous clients you have.

NASE business consultants hear this scenario all too often; “I just lost my biggest client and don’t know if I can keep the business going unless I find someone to replace them.”

To keep any business solvent you have to have a diverse customer base. If your business is too dependent on one or two clients and you’ve decided make your future more secure, here are some tips to help you diversify.
 
Don't Be a Lone Ranger
It's common for people locked into one or two clients to be the primary service provider. Changing that dependence by alliancing with other people in your profession or delegating administrative work will make you more efficient and able to handle more clients … and make more time for marketing.

Prospect for New Clients
As a general rule commit a minimum of six to eight hours a week marketing and prospecting.
Establish a weekly marketing routine like every Tuesday between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and block it in your calendar just as you would any commitment.
Don't allow yourself to get side tracked. Clear everything off your desk except what you need to prospect … including letting your voice mail take messages. Even consider turning your phone ringer off so you can concentrate without distractions.
Have a written list of what you want to accomplish:

1. Call Jan Flynn and ask for a referral.

2. Write a standard letter with a strong marketing message about my business.

3.  Attend Chamber of Commerce mixer at 5 p.m. 

Have a filler plan for any unexpected hole in your schedule. This is good time call personal contacts or follow-up on past contacts.
Only in an emergency (breaking a leg is acceptable) vary from your plan. The most important part of the plan is your commitment to follow through.

Network, Network and Then Network Some More!

Join trade groups that have similar business contacts. Example, a graphics designer might join a freelance writers group.
The Chamber of Commerce is an old standby but none the less a place to meet people who might need your services.
Professional Network Groups are for the purpose of members providing specific referrals of potential business to other members.

Get More Out Of Your Existing Clients
Don’t be shy about asking clients for referrals.
Ask for letters of recommendation. A proven track record of satisfied clients is important to sell new clients and a recommendation could be a deciding factor.
Join professional or social groups that your clients belong to so that you can meet people with similar needs.

Tap Into Personal Resources
People you associate with know people who need your products and services. Pull out your contact file and ask them for a referral of someone who might need your expertise, or better yet, ask them to make a call for you.

Make Yourself Visible
Make a list of five groups that might be interested in your knowledge or expertise. Contact them and offer to speak to their group or if you already belong to a group find out who is in charge of getting speakers for meetings and ask to be put you on their list.

"The only sure thing about finding new clients is that if you don't commit yourself to do something, you will end up with nothing!"


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Self Made

A blog on the self-employed and micro-business

Meet the NASE Staff Bloggers


Katie Vlietstra - As Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, I work to explain how actions on Capitol Hill can impact the self-employed. I love D.C. and have made my home in Capitol Hill, where I live with my husband and black Labrador, Coltrane. We love playing volleyball and softball on the National Mall. 

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