I have made lots of mistakes as a consultant. Most of these happened because I didn’t know myself — my limitations, personality type, and blind spots.
A lot of business owners feel the need to convince customers they are worthy to solve their problems. But this can seem like desperation… and it results in offering too much to the wrong type of customer.
This is part 5 of a 7-part series.
To watch the full video, check out:
The Hardest Part About Finding Ideal Customers
In my experiences, the most challenging thing about serving customers is being honest with yourself. Self-analysis is effective when we recognize that we may be holding back growth because of problems within ourselves — areas of blind spots, bias, and prejudice that we may be totally unaware are even happening.
What is Your Personality Type?
Analyzing my mistakes has also led me into the wonderful world of personality and temperament tests.
My favorite tool is StrengthsFinder, which provides a list of the 5 traits that explain how you see the world (out of 34 possible ones).
Check out my article on this topic: 8 Reasons to Take the StrengthsFinder Assessment if You’re a Business Owner.
My top 5 talents include: Focus, Activator, Input, Ideation, and Futuristic.
My Myers-Briggs type is INTP, and you can find a huge collection of INTP memes over here.
The Yin and Yang Forces
What if several of your current customers are a terrible fit for your personality type, your business strengths, or your philosophy? This is, unfortunately, a very common mistake that many owners make. (Check out Who are Ideal Customers, and What Do They Look Like?)
We tend to feed off of the energy that those around us produce, whether or not we realize it. A negative, uncertain, nervous, and fearful attitude will attract customers who either have that same fear response—or customers who see an opportunity to take advantage and will strong-arm you into giving them too much (Transaction Avoidance Syndrome). This nervous tension is a classic Yin Response.
Conversely, if your attitude is overly critical, authoritarian, forceful, and insensitive to the needs of your staff or customers, this will attract people who feed off that energy as well. A Yang Response of aggression could actually drive away customers who would be a perfect fit for your services or products.
Read more about these in Yin and Yang Approaches to Management.
A great tool to get some perspective on which customers you should be serving is my structured rating system—Download the Customer Rating System for free.
Accepting Failure and Success
Another problem can be an underlying fear of failure… as well as a fear of success.
Believe it or not, it can be very difficult for some of us to do well. Everybody talks about the “fear of failure,” but the “fear of success” can keep us from moving into fantastic and profitable opportunities. Maybe you feel afraid about what it will feel like to finally achieve your dreams.
Read more: The 4 Responses to Fear as a Leader
Consider the benefits of welcoming failure as a growth tool. We often don’t see failure as a good thing; but it’s something that we need. We can’t grow and learn unless we try things that may not work out.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
― W. E. Hickson
When we stumble and recognize what caused it, we can get back up, correct the problem, and keep moving forward. Without the failure, we will plateau and not be able to succeed past a certain point.
Looking Into the Future
Finding an “Ideal Customer” can be especially difficult (or even impossible) if we don’t know what we want from the business.
Many of us have trouble imagining a perfect future. For some, it could mean that we finally get recognize by our peers. A perfect future could mean earning a certain amount of money. Or where the business can run without us constantly checking every detail. Or seeing our customers enjoy the outcomes of our services and products.
Imagining these scenarios in your mind’s eye can feel frustrating. But it is an essential step in identifying the potential barriers that will keep you from achieving your goals.
Tune in to the next article in this series, where you’ll find out what I learned about serving customers who are not ideal. Read it here.
If you are interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace, find out more here!
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.