Building Your Clique: How Many Clients Does Your Business Need?

How many clients do you need to work with to be successful this year?

It doesn’t matter if you have a few large clients or many smaller ones. When a client approaches you, do you know how badly you need their business? If you don’t know, you’re coming to the table uncertain. Uncertainty leads to fear; fear leads to weakness, and you don’t want to be hammering out deals that define your business from a place of weakness.

That’s why I think it’s important to have a number in your head of how many customers would be enough. That’s not to say you can’t work with more people if you have the capacity; They’re just a bonus.

Finding Your Number

There are a few ways to get this number. If you have been freelancing for a couple of years, use previous years as an example.

If you don’t have that much experience, take the amount of money you need to make in a year divided by the average you make from a single client. There is your number.

Developers tend to fall into the few big clients strategy over the many smaller ones, due to the high complexity and large time investment needed in most software projects. For me, my number is six. Just six clients and my business can function successfully for a year.

Six is not much. That means one successful close every two months. If you work with a couple dozen clients per year, that is still only two new deals per month. That number is your Clique: the small number of people that have exclusive access to your services. Treat them well and take care in cultivating them.

Finding Your Clique Members

Once you have your number, you can reverse engineer your sales process. Of the number of leads you talk to, do you know what percentage of them convert? If you don’t, let’s just say 10%.

If you land 10% of leads, then you need 240 leads per year to get 24 clients.

240 leads = 20 leads per month.

20 leads = 5 leads per week.

Try it yourself:

You could generate enough business by sending out one email, or making one phone call per day. That’s not counting any ‘ambient leads’ you get, such as word of mouth or referrals. Getting enough clients should just take a few minutes per day.

You Just Need A Tiny Slice of a Tiny Market

Now consider to the potential pool of customers out there. For example, what if you market was small IT firms in the New York City area? I’ll define smallish as having 11 – 50 employees, as I find companies of that size are a sweet spot when it comes to looking for outside help. There are 1,446 of those companies as of this writing. If I were pursuing this market, I would only need 0.4% market share. It does not take much to reach that many people, even in that small market.

Find the people you want to serve, and start building the exclusive club of that group that will be your business.

Have an Abundance Mindset

Remember the fear I talked about earlier? It’s not just from uncertainty. Do you ever feel like you need to take on a client project, even if they seem like a dud or an ass? Because you don’t know when the next client will come along, or you need the cash flow? Those thoughts come from working from a scarcity mindset. You think there isn’t much out there. You have to take what you can get.

But I hope the above examples have demonstrated that this premise is objectively false. When you need a small part of a small market, there is plenty of room for growth and opportunity. If you only need 1 out of 100 of a target audience, then you can take or leave any person that ends up at your doorstep. There are 99 more people out there.

With so much opportunity available, how can you possibly fail? That line of thinking is the abundance mindset. As long as you have the hustle, you can find more than enough clients to hit your goals.

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