Define your ideal and nightmare clients

Not every client is for every executive coach, and vice versa. It is important to overcome any illusions you may have about the clients you say you want compared to the client that are the best fit for you.

For instance, I’ve learned over time who my best client is. Typically I work best, and get the best results for, clients with these characteristics:

– They are really smart and highly educated.

– They have some sort of scholarly or exclusive expertise.

– They are building an organization or commercializing a product and lack management skills or education.

– They are thoughtful, sincere, and open to advice and collaboration.

I always thought I’d be coaching CEOs from top technology companies, but it didn’t work out that way. These people weren’t especially open to coaching in general, and I didn’t have much success building credibility with them.

But it doesn’t matter, as I have a wonderful practice serving university administrators and professors, highly-educated professionals, executive directors of non-profits and foundations, and entrepreneurs leading emerging growth companies.

Who are your ideal clients? Questions to answer include:

– What industry are they in?

– What values do they share?

– What issues do they face?

– What is their leadership style?

– How much revenue will they generate for you in one year’s time, and over a lifetime of service?

Also, think about your nightmare client. The attributes of my nightmare client include:

– They are defensive and generally uncoachable.

– They often cancel or reschedule meetings.

– They are not responsive.

– They constantly question their investment in executive coaching.

– They have questionable ethics.

Now that I know who I enjoy serving (and who likes working with me), I’m much more satisfied in my practice, and also spend less time and money on business development. My ideal clients tend to know each other, and refer business my way — saving me lots of time and effort.

How about you?

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