It’s a question I’m often asked by clients and other solopreneurs; does the client size matter?
We all know the 80/20 rule; 80% of our business comes from 20% of our clients – right?
Just this week I got a panicked call from a client who is freaking out that his biggest client is unlikely to renew their contract at the end of the year.
The client provides 80% of his total income and takes, yes, you guessed it, 80% of his time. Because he is so busy servicing this client, he hasn’t got the time to find new clients. It’s a real catch 22 for him.
Naturally, he’s scared. It’s a common problem.
Riding the wave
As solopreneurs we crave to swim with the big fish. The bigger the client, the bigger the returns, the bigger the credibility, and that feather in your cap.
But, the bigger the risk.
We can only be in one place at one time.
If your business soley relies on your skills, your prescense, and your participation you cannot outsource easily.
Riding the wave of success with your big client can be exhilirating, uplifiting, and lucrative.
However, it can be dangerous. If that client walks out you can find yourself in a mess.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
If taking on a big client means that you have no time to service other clients or look for new ones you should think long an hard about whether it’s worth taking on that client.
I have, in the past, turned down huge clients.
The risk of losing my business completely if they were to cancel was too great.
Outsourcing where you can is a viable solution. In Dubai I often outsourced in order to deal with the very large clients – the difference was I wasn’t selling my time in that business.
Short term gains vs. Long term losses?
Many solopreneurs do get blinded by the amount of financial gain attached to taking on that client.
But is that short term financial gain worth it in the long run? What if you spend all your time working IN your business leaving you little, if any time, to work ON it? How does that help you?
It’s dangerous territory!
Things to consider when that white elephant strolls in:
- Bigger isn’t always better. You might be better off with 3 smaller clients that equal the same income as one big one. At least, if one doesn’t go the distance you only take a small hit.
- Can you outsource? If you can make more time for yourself to keep growing your business and working ON it vs. in it then go fo it.
- Manage their expectations. I’ve been bullied in the past by larger clients, they think they can throw their weight around because they are big multinationals. Make contracts, make them sign, and try not to over service and then struggle with the monster you created.
- Say no. As hard as it is to turn down work and money sometimes it has to be done.
What do you think?
Have you had a problem with dealing with a big client in the past?
What do you recommend to other solopreneurs when they are faced with such a dilemma?