I started my business, probably like you, for a variety of reasons – many of them intensely personal. Most of all I wanted to be a good steward of my time, talents and treasure. I wanted the flexibility to be with my kids, yet contribute to the business world. I wanted to work with people that I respected, that I could learn from and be challenged by. I wanted to truly be myself, and not second-guess every word and every outfit. I wanted to have a day full of exciting new problems to tackle, rather than endless meetings and numbing office politics. I wanted to be part of that bigger dream, where the bottom line wasn’t just dollar profits but contributions to family, community and the greater good.
I created a glossy business plan, sales projections and lead sources. I then started building my business.
Then one day a few years later, I woke up to find that I certainly had “more” customers. I was busy and responsive but fundamentally stressed. No better than corporate life, I was frantically responding to more clients, more opportunities, more ideas for new services – but not always more money in my pocket.
I had coffee with a smart and wise friend who had also started her business as an outsourced CFO about the same time I had started RoadMap Marketing. Clearly she was doing something right. She was taking off most Fridays to go to her house in the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She controlled well her hours and her hourly rate. She, in fact, rejected several projects and clients if they did not meet her profile. Her business/life balance was progressing exactly as she had planned.
I candidly confessed my full schedule and my empty checkbook. She patiently listened and then told me her secret. For her company (and others) she created the usual reports on profits by product or even service, to determine which items were making money and which were not. But she also made sure she structured the revenue and cost data so she could look at profitability by customer, which customers were actually bringing in the profits and which were actually costing more than they were worth.
Sure enough, when looking at the customer portfolios of my business and other small businesses over the years, I also found that a small, silent minority of “better” customers generate the large majority of profits. And the majority? They just sap time and resources. By shifting the focus on better customers, owners had better profits, and more time to focus on growth.
I would like to share with you this “secret” of getting better customers. On November 29th at 1pm ET I will offer a live webinar to share the process and tools for getting better customers (and offloading some of the deadbeats). Sign up here for the webinar - as a gift to my SCORE readers, all registrants will get a free copy of my ebook “The Secret of Getting Better Customers.” You can also sign up here to get editable “better customer” templates and tools to start working on your business.
This month I’ll be sharing stories of better customers and other tips. I would love to hear yours.