How to Balance the Right Number of Clients
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
How do you feel about your current number of clients? Well, according to Hubspot, 61 percent of marketers say that generating leads is one of their top challenges. It seems that businesses can never have too many clients — or can they?
There comes a point in every owner’s career when they feel overextended, which makes sense; it’s hard to say no to a paying client who wants your services, and sometimes their referrals bring in additional business faster than you’re accustomed to. While this is typically considered a great problem to have, it’s important to find a balance in determining what the right number of clients is for you. Here are some key considerations in affecting that harmony within your business.
1. Determine what your perfect schedule looks like
There are some entrepreneurs who will continue taking on clients simply because they don’t want to turn them away. While everyone's individual workload and responsibilities outside the office differs, a critical starting point is to make sure you've assessed your work-life balance needs.
When do you want to begin your workday? End it? How long is your lunch break, and how many hours do you spend per week on client or sales calls? While the perfect schedule is seldom achieved, it can be rooted in how your calendar has shaped up in the past. Don’t let new clients bleed over into time that you need for yourself, whether it be that evening yoga class, coffee with advisors or even just a chance to breathe and get organized.
2. Calculate the average time spent with each client
Next, determine the number of hours per month that you usually spend with a client. Go down the line and calculate an exact time allocation for each depending on their needs. This should take into account communications, essential work and anything tangentially related to their project (e.g. brainstorming, billing, etc.).
And don't underestimate or dilute the resulting number. Macdonald Worley, founder of Houston-based personal-injury law firm McDonald Worley PC, stresses, “Just because you can take on more clients doesn’t necessarily mean you should. You want to make sure you’re doing a good job responding to every client’s specific needs and doing so with attention to detail. Your perfect schedule should reflect you doing your best work for the client, rather than watering down your effort so you can bring more clients into the fold.”
How many clients can you realistically take on if you’re adhering to your own perfect schedule while also doing your best work for each of them? Be as brutal as possible in determining this. This should also include blank space for potential new clients.
3. Create a target threshold for monthly client capacity
Finally, once you’ve come to an estimation of client capacity based on your perfect schedule, aim to hit capacity, but never exceed it. If this means you need to raise prices, do so. If this means you are serving way too many clients and need to bring on extra help, do so. But ultimately, operating from an understanding of your bandwidth is key in ensuring you’re offering the best service you can.
Related: 3 Laws for Attracting New Clients
Being realistic about your monthly client capacity goes beyond the time spent with clients and working for them individually. SimplePractice recommends also looking at time-consuming activities such as administrative work, billing and new client calls. After all, each of these tasks is required to best serve your clients and should be taken into consideration. The more you try to cram into a tight schedule, the more that important tasks get pushed off, leaving you vulnerable to having unhappy clients and experiencing missed deadlines and a generally heightened stress level.
Once you have a bird's-eye view of your capacity, you can determine the right number of clients for your business at any given time. Stick to it, wow them, and see what needs to be changed as you go.