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Building Your Clientele: Starting with the Right Stuff

Image of building blocksWhen I started out my Design Consultancy, Ars Nova, I didn’t want it to be sales driven. Contrary to how it was back when I was still working full-time for a publishing company, now I’m favoring quality over quantity when it comes to accepting and bidding for projects. Right from the start I told myself “Since it’s MY company,  I’m only gonna work on projects that I would like to do and I’m going to try to keep it this way for as long as I could”. I am determined to stay happy running Ars Nova or else, just shut it down completely.

Basic Ground Rules
To remind me why I started Ars Nova and help me not lose track on what it’s supposed to be all about, I’ve laid down some basic ‘ground rules’ to serve as my company’s guideline in accepting/rejecting projects and keeping clients:

  1. Ars Nova will only accept projects that I like and approve of. I’ll only work on and/or collaborate with projects that I can proudly say that I was a part of. Anything that I can’t show in my or on the company’s portfolio, for any reason aside from a valid non-disclosure agreement, is out of the question.
  2. I will not undervalue my work. Pricing should not go below the (much thought of and considerably fair) rate I’ve set for the project, this doesn’t mean that I won’t be open for negotiations or concessions with potential clients. But what this means is that I should never take up a job that offers compensation way below what I am willing to work for. Aside from it being unfair to my clients who are paying at my desired rate, it’ll be counter-productive to my long-term goal of having absolute control of my time and schedule.
  3. I will actively enjoy the privilege of choosing my clients. One of the perks of being your own boss (which I think is the best) is having the privilege of choosing whom to work with. One thing I have dreaded doing when I was still working as a Creative for another firm was putting up with abusive sales people and dealing with deliberately difficult clients month after month after month. Now that I am running the show, I don’t want to recreate that scenario ever again. I have promised myself that the Ars Nova will be operating from the Creatives’ point of view – not from the Suits’ nor the Sales’. With this in mind, no matter how financially difficult it may be, I will not punish myself and the all the other people who works for me by putting up with rotten clients with money.

Building Lasting Relationships with Great Clients and Firing Bad Ones
Having a long list for my clientele initially really sounds great, but how many of them are really worth keeping? How many of my clients can I say were genuinely a pleasure to work with? 30%? 40%? 50%? I’d rather blissfully work on projects of just two on-going clients who truly appreciates my work, rather than service twenty clients of which half of them are contributing to my receding hairline and my high blood pressure. If majority of the clients I routinely work with are a**holes who are determined to see me fall flat from a cardiac arrest, I’d rather close-shop and just work for a regional/global advertising agency. At least somebody else would be paying for my medical/healthcare expenses.

Instead of concentrating on getting more and more clients (like how most sales people think), I’d rather spend my time developing the relationships I have with my current ‘Good’ clients and provide them with value-added service. Because as their business grows, so does their need for my services. And these are also the relevant business contacts who would give me referrals to other great clients.

NEXT STOP >> Where to Draw the Line…

Rockstar for hire.
I help businesses create memorable branding experiences for their customers.

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