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Why getting more clients is not what you need

3 top business tasks

The three tasks of business – which do you dread?


When you work for yourself there are tasks that will inspire and invigorate you.
There are the chores which will make you feel like the wiring of your brain is just not equal to the task.
Then there are the jobs which, quite simply, you will be desperate for other people to do.

And that’s where the problem lies.

The growing trend of ‘no can do’

A few weeks ago we were in dire need of help with an advertising related task. It was one of those things that sat on our list but never got done. It was time to outsource. We reached out to our network and were recommended someone who could handle this problem in his sleep. We were delighted. Until that is we got in touch and learned that no, he didn’t do this sort of work anymore. But better than that, he could TEACH US how to do it. Hmmmm. Not exactly what I had in mind.

The following week we needed to find a proof reader. Same process, network engaged, recommendation given. But for goodness sake, same deal again- ‘I won’t do it for you, but I WILL show you how to improve your own skills’.

Perhaps I’m being a bit self-centred here, but as the potential client, should service providers not be helping me purchase exactly what I am looking for??

A drawback of a location independent philosophy

I’m not saying that these services aren’t valuable; it’s a great offer to up-skill your clients. It adds to the tools at their disposal and saves them money both short and long term. But there is a time and a place for this sort of offer, and when someone wants YOU to take the problem off their hands is not it.

Part of me thinks that people like us only have ourselves to blame. We encourage people to create service models which allow greater flexibility in the way they are delivered to give you more control over where in the world you want to be. BUT- you still need to provide a serve that other people actually want, and that suits them, not just you.

3 top business tasks

Don’t just teach; DO!

With all the teaching available it is dizzying how diverse the skill set of the average small business owner is becoming. But we remain amateurs at many of them, not suited to the demands and facing overwhelm at the prospect of another day out of our comfort zone.

It seems strange to me that when a potential client asks ‘can you do this for me?’ that ‘no, but I can do this instead’ would seem a suitable response. If I go to have my haircut I don’t want to be shown how to do it myself. I want an expert to do it so I don’t end up looking like a deranged hedgehog. When I want a job doing right, I want to pay someone to provide me with a no-hassle solution, not to add another problem to my list.

The client-centred approach

Surely the client needs to be at the centre of service delivery. So if the client wants one thing, don’t push them towards something else. Particularly when that ‘something else’ makes your life easier but theirs more difficult.

I get that it’s easier to flog a few eBooks than put the effort into taking on the project for them. But that’s why you charge more. What seems crazy to me is how many aspiring business owners are turning work away- and wondering why their business isn’t getting off the ground as they hoped.

Of course eBook and self learning programmes are going to be exactly what some of your clients are looking for. But there will also be other clients looking for an easier option, even if it means more expense. What you need to make sure is that you are offering a full range of services, and that if you are asked if you can do something, you say ‘yes!’ If you don’t want to do it yourself, make sure you have a team of associates or partners to outsource the work to, retaining control over client relationship and quality of output. If the client has approached you, they want to work with YOU. It’s up to you to figure out how to make that work for you and for them.

But it’s worth remembering that if a priority is for your business to make you money, it isn’t always going to be about what YOU want.

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5 Responses to “Why getting more clients is not what you need”

  1. This made me laugh out loud! Great post with some pretty obvious points. Why advertise as a service provider if you can’t or don’t actually provide the service? I always recommend clients looking for virtual services to go with a professional company, with already vetted and trained staff and that are “ready to go” with a wide array of services.
    Sandra recently posted..How a Virtual Assistant can help you achieve more sales

    • Thanks Sandra, ‘ready to go’ is certainly how we like it!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  2. A very good point made here – my only concern is that, sometimes, clients expect you to do the work for them FOR LESS than it would cost them to learn to do it themselves. I suppose, in that situation, you simply say “no thanks”, and move on!
    Julia Barnickle recently posted..How To Stop Chasing Clients And Have Them Seek You Out Instead

    • Isn’t it cheeky/infuriating when they do that?! Exactly, getting comfortable with those no’s is crucial. However big the pay check might be, it’s never going to feel fair when you know they are trying to take advantage. H x

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  3. Hannah & Chris,

    Can’t say I’ve ever heard of a service provider doing something like this. I mean, it seems sort of…. counter-intuitive doesn’t it?

    As a copywriter who works with clients all over the world, I would never tell a client “no, let me show you how to do this instead”… Why would I cheat myself like that? I want clients to come back for more, not people who say “well, don’t need you anymore now that I know how to do this…”

    Not to mention, if they really wanted to learn how to do something the answer is probably just a few clicks away on Google anyway.

    Sounds like an excuse just to sell a couple of e-books and call it a day.
    Hermine recently posted..How to Optimize Your E-book Like a Boss


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