Online business is so complicated, right?
Wrong. Well, kinda.
You see, the fundamentals of running a profitable business are pretty straightforward.
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But unlike what social media might lead you to believe, the road to growing a profitable business isn’t sexy.
It’s not glamorous tools, colorful pie-charts, and complicated sales funnels that lead the way to an income-generating business.
In fact, the road to starting a profitable business has the following pit stops:
Identify your ideal reader/client
Define your niche and focus
Have a product/service to sell
Create valuable content to build the KLT (know-like-trust) factor and lead into your service/product
Craft a promotion plan for your content and a sales process to turn readers into buyers
Of course, that’s a very simplified summary, but it really is the fundamentals of what it takes to start and grow a profitable business.
And while there are a hundred ways to think of your products/services and create them, and even more ways to serve your audience with valuable content and promote that content to lead to sales, the first is always (always, always) identifying who your ideal client is.
In this post, we’re going to find out why it’s so darn important to identify who your ideal client is, and why your ideal clients needs to be the basis of all decisions, growth, and profit within your business.
And because I don’t just want to leave you with the why, I’ll also be sharing how you can identify your ideal client with two super simple methods that you can use to explore what your ideal client looks like.
How my business started and the rookie mistake I made
Let me first back up and give you the story of how my business started, though.
Somewhere around three years ago, I started off my online adventure as a freelance web developer.
I was really lucky to score my first client on my very first day as a brand spanking new freelancer.
I was really excited, and I was pretty sure that I could make something of this whole freelance business, but my excitement didn't last very long, unfortunately.
While I was fortunate enough to get a lot of projects and new clients, largely through word-of-mouth, the kind of clients that I got weren't exactly what I would call my “ideal” clients.
They were typically large corporations with a lot of hierarchy, and that just meant that every single decision took a long, long, long time to take.
Whether it was a font, whether it was the content that needed to go on the pages, or even just the structuring of the pages on the website - everything took ages!
It was definitely not the kind of work I was hoping to do, and from the outside looking in, everything seemed to be going really well with my business.
I had more than enough clients, I had no marketing spend (because all my clients came through word-of-mouth), and I was generating much more income than I ever thought possible within the first year of my business.
So on paper it looked really good, but on the inside I was miserable.
I wasn't enjoying the kind of clients I was working with, nor the projects that I was working on, and that's largely due to one big mistake I made at the start.
I never got clear on who my ideal client was.
You see, I made the rookie mistake of not pinpointing who my ideal client was, nor did I get get specific about the kind of work that I really wanted to do.
The first step in starting a profitable online business
I believe the first step in starting an online business is getting clarity on who your ideal client is.
Never, ever put out a product or service without first getting clarity on what tasks give you energy, what you enjoy doing most, what you're good at, and who you would like to work with.
Outline your ideal client - who are they, what do they enjoy doing and what are you personally good at?
And trust me, once you get clarity on your ideal client, those people will find and come to you, and you will be in the luxurious state where you can sell without needing to sell.
Why it’s super important to identify your ideal client
1. You get to know their struggles, fears, and problems
Once you discover who your ideal client is, you can also pinpoint exactly what their struggles, fears and problems are, and therefore, how you can best help them.
What's funny is that when you do the exercise of exploring and identifying your ideal client, you'll notice that you will also gain insight into what you stand for, what's important to you within your business, and you will attract only those customers that align with your vision.
And if you come across a potential client or a buyer that does not align with that vision, it will be so much easier to filter through and say no to them.
2. Coming from a place of service leads to sales (no more icky car salesman!)
It could be that you already own a business, and have products and services on offer, but maybe they're not selling.
If you struggle with selling and pitching yourself, it might be because you don't know who you're trying to sell to.
In terms of marketing and sales, it is great to know if there's a need for your service or product.
If you know who your ideal client is, you can ask them what their single biggest problem is at the moment or what keeps them up at night.
That will give you first-hand valuable insight into ways that you can be of service to them, and you can create products or services that your ideal client actually needs, wants, and will buy.
3. Always know where to find and serve potential clients
In terms of social media, knowing who your ideal client is is also so important because if you don't know who they are, you won't know where they're hanging out or where you can best find them.
Knowing where they hang out and where you can find them means you can use those channels to build community, help them get to know you, serve them in meaningful ways through free content, and lead them to working with you.
If you decide to go the paid traffic and leads route, it’s also extremely useful to know who your ideal client is, and where you can find them.
Because you could be spending a lot of your hard-earned dollars on Facebook ads, hoping and praying for it to work for your business, but all that while, your audience might actually be hanging out on Instagram.
4. Find your ‘voice’ easily and naturally
Knowing your ideal client makes finding your ‘voice’ straightforward and super obvious.
Because if you don't know who you're speaking to, you also won’t know how you should speak to that person.
Think about it.
You would approach and speak to a hardcore corporate male lawyer so much more differently than you would to a stay-at-home mother with young kids at home.
Your ideal client has so much impact on what your website copy is like, what your sales pages sound like, the kind of messages you put out on social media, and just about any external contact you have with your readers and with members of your audience.
That's why it's super important to know who you're speaking to, and who that one ideal client is for your business.
Now that you know why it's so important to find your ideal client, let's get into how to find your ideal client.
How to find your ideal client
I've got a workbook that takes you through questions that will help you pinpoint and discover your ideal client.
I'll go through some of the questions in this post, but if you're looking for a deeper dive into your ideal client, you definitely want to go ahead and download the free workbook to find your ideal client.
Get the Free 'Find Your Ideal Client' Workbook
So let's begin.
Does your business focus primarily on women, men or both? Even if you're inclined to say both because you want to cover all your bases, like most people do at the start, I really want you to focus on just one to start with.
This is not to say that you won't attract members in your audience from the other sex, but you'll often find that the way you speak to one does differ from the way you speak to the other, so get specific.
How old are they? What do they need to be earning?
It might feel weird to pinpoint a salary, but the reason it's important is because it can act as a guide in terms of pricing your products and your services.
Because it's hard to sell a 1-on-1 premium service to someone that's just about getting by.
So even if you're not sure what the salary is or should be, make a guess (or think of your preference), and use it as a guide for yourself when you're pricing or determining your services and your products.
What are their biggest struggles, fears, and problems?
What are the major problems they're facing at the moment, whether that's in their life or in there business, if you're selling to other businesses.
BONUS TIP: Even if you think you know, or you're sure you know what their biggest struggles are at the moment, I highly recommend you to go out and ask members of your audience that fit your ideal client profile, what their single biggest struggle is at the moment.
Try to be as specific as possible, and go as close to the source as you possibly can.
I've got a whole lot more questions in the workbook that goes along with this post, so if you want more insights into your ideal client, go ahead and download the workbook.
Get the Free 'Find Your Ideal Client' Workbook
If answering these questions feels a bit difficult for you, I've got another fun method that I use with clients to help you discover your ideal client.
The story method
This method uses narrative to describe your ideal client in a story form, so if you have a hard time answering the questions, you might actually enjoy the more creative process of visualizing and imagining your ideal client.
For example: your ideal client might be a woman named Emma, who's 34 years old, and works a full-time job where she earns $90,000 a year.
She's also a mother of two young kids, and she's looking for productivity tips, either in the form of DIY solutions or 1-on-1 services, to help her organize the house and manage household chores.
You see how imagining your ideal client, and describing them in story form, can be such a fun way to get insight into who they are, how old they are, how much they earn, what their biggest struggles are, and the kind of solutions that they might be looking for.
This can become the starting point for the kind of content you create, the kind of tone you use, and the kind of products and services you offer to actually help them.
Using the story form is one of my favorite methods to get clarity on who your ideal client is because it makes them so real for you.
It brings them to life, humanizes them, and it makes it so much simpler for you to relate to them, to understand what their problems are, and to think of the solutions that might be most impactful and useful in helping them solve those problems.
That's why identifying your ideal client is the first step in setting up a profitable and a sustainable business.
Because every successful business owner knows how to solve the biggest problems of their ideal client with their products and their services.
So if you haven't already, download the free 'Find Your Ideal Client' workbook, and work through the questions to discover who your ideal client is.
Get the Free 'Find Your Ideal Client' Workbook