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Chapter
3

Get clarity around your target market

In the last steps, you figured out what your values and your goals are. You also got into the idea of business planning as a concept. You should’ve started filling in your business plan template so you can see the progress you’re making toward your tangible business plan.

This step is about paying your bills by working with clients that match those values and goals. By the end, you’ll have a list of at least five dream clients. You can always add more, but five is a nice jumping off point

Build a list of dream clients

Figure out: who exactly is your dream client? If you already know who they are, list them out below, with their pain points. If you don’t, we’ll go through an exercise to help you figure it out.

Client

Pain Point

Ex: B2B SaaS company

Trouble acquiring new customers because they have limited visibility in the market.

Client 2

Their pain point

Client 3

Their pain point

Client 4

Their pain point

Client 5

Their pain point

If you already know your dream clients and their pain points, add them to your “Target market and Audience” section of your business plan. If you don’t, the next section will help you figure it out. 

Figure out your dream client

Put all your past and existing clients aside for a moment. Imagine you have a completely blank slate to define your ideal customer based on your goals and values.

Let’s start with a few questions to determine your ideal client, and then I’ll show you a few examples. 

  1. What industries or products interest you? Maybe you enjoy working with B2C ecommerce because their products feel relevant to you. Maybe you only want to work with pet companies. Maybe you’re an expert in finance or education, so those clients are a good fit for what you offer.

  2. Do you care about how much money the company has, or where it comes from? Some freelancers prefer working with bootstrapped clients, so they’re not beholden to a board. Others prefer working with clients that have reached Series A, B, or C level funding, so they don’t have to worry about cash flow. 

  3. Do you care about the initiative type? Maybe you want to focus on helping companies scale up for the first time, piloting SEO for the first time, or rebuilding their email marketing efforts.

It can go beyond those questions, too. Think back to your values. If you value making your own schedule, maybe your dream client doesn’t make you take any phone calls. If you value learning, maybe your dream client gives you lots of guidance or management.

One thing I value is learning, so I love clients that let me go in with 60% of the knowledge, so I can learn the rest by working on it. I also value fair clients who pay me on time, and the edits are easy and reasonable.

Based on your answers above, list your dream clients in the table. 

Client

Pain Point

Client 1 - Business name or industry type

We'll get to this in the next section

Client 2 - Business name or industry type

We'll get to this in the next section

Client 3 - Business name or industry type

We'll get to this in the next section

Client 4 - Business name or industry type

We'll get to this in the next section

Client 5 - Business name or industry type

We'll get to this in the next section

Identify a pain point for each client

Now you need to figure out what you can give to your target client. The best way to do that is to correctly identify their needs. 

For example, consider online dog breeding communities? Online community platforms don’t make it easy for dog breeders to congregate online. If you’re a social media manager, that’s something you can help with.

Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Editorial managers at online business magazine → Hard to stay current on events in the data science category because of a lack of writers.

  • Seed stage ed-tech startup → Get no organic traffic to their website.

  • Fintech founders → Don’t know whether to focus on ads, content, or both. I purloined this directly from a fintech founder’s AMA.

Having a hard time thinking of pain points? People love to complain online, so check out these sites:

  • Reddit, e.g. r/entrepreneur has a “How Do I” category full of people complaining about their business problems.

  • Personal blogs, Twitter accounts, or other social media of founders or CEOs.

  • Slack, Facebook, and LinkedIn groups for your ideal client.

Once you’ve identified their pain points, finish filling in the chart:

Client

Pain Point

Client 1

Client 1's pain point

Client 2

Client 2's pain point

Client 3

Client 3's pain point

Client 4

Client 4's pain point

Client 5

Client 5's pain point

However, sometimes it's hard to know from the outset, and without a conversation, what a clients' challenges or need are at a given moment. This is a good opportunity to set up a discovery call with that client to get a better sense of what they need, and how you can work together to get there.

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