The goal of any service-based or freelance business is to find and work with their ‘dream client’, right?
This lofty ambition seems to be the gold standard for businesses and individuals to strive for. After all, if you work with your dream client, the rest will supposedly fall into place.
Well, I’m here to tell you the term ‘dream client’ is actually damaging your business, and what you should be doing instead.
Why the term ‘dream client’ is hurting your business
Before I get into the details, first let’s outline what a dream client actually is.
A dream client is generally someone you’d absolutely love to work with. This can come in a few different forms:
- Their business, or they, align perfectly with your values.
- You’re a fan of their business.
- You’d love to work with them because you think it’ll be an enjoyable experience.
- You admire and respect their work.
- You think they’d be a great platform for you to reach a new level.
Essentially, these dream clients are ideal. They’re the unicorns of the client world. Clients that service-based businesses strive to work with.
It all seems pretty harmless from a distance, but let’s look a little closer and outline why it’s a damaging term for your business.
1. It indicates that your dream client is ‘the one’
When keeping a list of dream clients, you’re setting yourself up to feel terrible down the line.
You’ll likely do one of two things with this list:
- You’ll keep the list as a precious and never to be touched item. One that you won’t take action on until you’re ready. In which case, you’ll likely never be ‘ready’ enough and these clients will go uncontacted.
- You’ll start contacting your dream clients. Some might reply, some might not and some might reject you. If this happens, you’ll feel terrible and unworthy.
Essentially, you’re creating a list of people that can let you down, through no fault of their own. You’re manufacturing a way for you to feel disappointed, unworthy and rejected in a bad way down the line.
2. It signals your ‘dream clients’ are the best
When you set yourself up with a list of dream clients, you’re signalling something to your brain. You’re telling it that these dream clients are the best, and any others are lesser-than.
So if you end up booking one of your dream clients, you’ll unintentionally (or intentionally) treat them differently to your ‘average’ clients.
You’ll give them more attention, put in more effort and generally do a better job than you would other clients.
This is simply bad business.
3. It signals your business is not enjoyable without them
Once you’ve set up your list of dream clients, your mind will start thinking of the work you do, the people you work with and your day to day business as simply not as good as it could be.
Essentially, you’re telling your mind that unless you work with your dream client, the work you do isn’t fun, rewarding, or ‘aligned with your values’.
Within a few minutes, you’ve damaged your overall business mindset and your self-worth. You’re signalling to your mind that without these clients, you’re not living up to your potential and until you get them, you’ve not succeeded.
What to do instead?
Okay, so that all probably sounded pretty dramatic. But if you think back to when you started thinking about your dream client/s, I can bet you felt some of the things I talked about above.
So, instead of using the term ‘dream client’, what should you do instead?
The answer to this is simple, just replace it with another term – potential client.
You can create lists of potential clients sure, but they need to be right for your business and you need to take action on them.
There’s simply no use in spending hours finding people you’d like to work with, based on arbitrary stuff like they ‘align with your values’ or ‘you love their business’.
Instead, you need to determine if they:
- Actually want or need your service.
- See the benefit in your service.
- And have the money to spend.
These three things are key when targeting new potential clients.
What’s more, don’t get attached to these potential clients. They aren’t your dream clients because your business and self-worth doesn’t hinge on who you work with.
There are thousands of people and businesses out there that you could be working with. So don’t let the term ‘dream client’ hold you back.
Now I’d like to know from you. Do you use the term ‘dream client’? Have anything to add to the conversation? Leave me a comment below!