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Finding Your Ideal Client

This is the 3rd article in a small business coaching series by special contributor, Carissa Reiniger, Founder and CEO of Silver Lining. If you like what you’ve read and want to super-charge the growth of your business in a serious way -- join us for SLAPbootcamp, a FREE, 4-part live webinar series exclusively for House of Home vendors that’s taking place in July and August. Stay tuned for details!


In our last article, we focused on understanding the financials of your business and setting realistic goals. Once you’ve set your goals, the next step is figuring out exactly who you are going to sell to!

Narrowing the focus

Small business owners tell us all the time that they like to cast a wide net in order to find anyone who they hope might someday be their customer. Afraid of missing out on a single sale, they market to everyone! There are two problems with this approach: First, it spreads your limited marketing resources too thin, making it hard to produce results. It’s a bit like shouting into a huge, crowded room and hoping the one person you want to meet will hear you! Second, by targeting everyone and anyone, you may actually reach the wrong clients - those who drain your resources, offer limited returns, and may potentially hurt your business rather than helping it grow!

Since most small business owners have fairly small budgets for marketing and business development, how can you make sure you get to “YES” as often and as quickly as possible? Start by looking at what has worked so far! Here’s a handy exercise that will shed new light on your growth strategy!

Who is your Ideal Client?

At Silver Lining, we talk a lot about finding and connecting with your Ideal Client -- the type of person who is most likely to buy from you. To figure out your Ideal Client, make a list of about 20 of your customers or clients from the past year who you can honestly say meet all (or at least 3) of the following criteria:

  • They value what you do

  • They pay willingly and don’t ask for discounts

  • You enjoy working with them

  • They send you referrals or otherwise act as an ambassador for you and your business

Anyone who meets all 4 of these criteria is truly your IDEAL CLIENT. Having a customer base full of these types of people would create the most fun, enjoyable, and profitable business for you. Why would you want to work with anyone else?

The next step is to figure out what drew these Ideal Clients to you. What common characteristics do they share that give you clues about how you can go out into the world and find more people just like them? Spend some time thinking about each person on your list:

  • Are they male or female?

  • How old are they?

  • Married or single?

  • Kids?

  • Are they self-employed, executives, managers?

  • Do they live in cities, suburbs, or rural areas?

  • What is their income level?

  • What are their hobbies?

  • What kinds of causes do they care about?

  • Are they early adopters or technophobic? Fashionable and trendy, or conservative?

Connect the dots

Write down everything you know about each person on your list. Then, try to identify the patterns and characteristics that show up most often. When you’re finished, you’ll have full picture of your Ideal Client -- a composite person you can visualize and name.

For example, our Ideal Client here at Silver Lining is James. He is a 41 year old business owner who has been in business for at least 2 years and has revenues between $100K and $2 million. He is married and has young kids, so he has financial responsibilities in addition to really really wanting to build a successful business. He lives in small city anywhere in the world, owns a house, and drives to work. James has lots of passion for his business, and great ideas, but he rarely has time to focus on implementing those ideas for growth because daily operations always get in the way. He’s tried lots of marketing ideas, maybe without enough follow through and not as much success as he knows is possible, and he’s ready to get some help!

Clarifying your Ideal Client saves time and money

Clearly defining your Ideal Client helps you focus all your precious resources on connecting with people who are most likely to buy from you. We get invitations to networking events all the time -- knowing who your Ideal Client is makes it a lot easier to decide which ones to attend depending on whether he or she will be there! It also focuses your follow-up efforts. If you meet 10 people at an event, you might think you need to get a follow-up meeting with all 10. However, you only truly need to follow up with the 3 or 4 who are actually your Ideal Client and have the greatest chance of buying from you. The time you devote to those other 6-7 meetings with people who are not your Ideal Client will be much better spent finding and connecting with those who are!

Who is your Ideal Client? Tell us all about it by emailing

*We hope to see you at SLAPbootcamp in July and August. * Register for SLAPbootcamp here!

If you would like to know more here's a link to Carissa's website

Article One in the series - Creating More Time & Money

Article Two in the series - Setting One Year Growth Goals for your Business

Article Four in the series - Creating a Marketing Action Plan to Connect with your ideal client

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