Throw Back the Small Fish

Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about how to get larger clients. One of the first ways to get to larger clients is to stop working with the smaller ones. This means two things: do not accept new clients under a certain bar that you’ve established and secondly, you need to fire a few small clients.

Why would I tell you not to accept all clients? Why on Earth would I tell you to fire clients?

It’s simple, think about fishing. What happens when you catch a small fish? You have to throw it back. What happens if you get a nice sized fish? You eat it. If you catch a huge fish? You mount it!

Clients are like fish (in this case, hopefully they don’t spell as bad). Many times small clients take just as much time to catch and to maintain as the larger ones. So, why not get paid more by less people?

If you set a bar, it is easier to turn away the smaller clients because you do not become invested in them, it is not personal yet. Every year, move the bar higher. Ten years ago, we designed websites for $1,500. Now, we will not do websites for that budget. It’s not because we’re mean and we’ve tripled our hourly rates. It is because we can not do the quality of work in that little of time. Every year or so we move the bar up.

Besides moving the bar up, we also prospect at a higher level. Where some people prefer to swim in the shallow end of the pool (I know, another water analogy), we prefer to get wet. We’ve learned that we can make the biggest impact with a client that needs us for more than a brochure. We have a better relationship with that company and we work on multiple projects across their brand. They also have a larger budget to implement our suggestions and have some fun with it. With smaller clients, you’re taking money out of their the owner’s wallet while larger companies budget for your services. This is why we work with large general contractors instead of residential contractors.

Look at your client list and look at the clients that take up the most of your time and pay you the least. Tell them you’ve moved in a different direction, possibly suggest someone they can work with and move on. They will appreciate your honestly and having someone that can take care of them. Now you can focus on larger, less needy clients.

It is still early in 2013, what is your minimum going to be for this year? What clients need to go? (Sorry to sound so cold this week, but you can’t move forward with clients holding you back.)