In 2009, while working with my life coach, John Dulworth, I learned a powerful lesson that has served me for over a decade. It was to design a business that allows me to live a life of my own making, by mastering the art of a “Powerful No.

I know… it’s a bit of an oxymoron, right? In an era when so many people preach the importance of saying YES to life, I’m suggesting that you actually need to get better at saying no. That’s because in every YES, you are actually saying NO to something else.

And so today, we are exploring four simple ways to help you mindfully choose clients, so your days are filled with meaningful, uplifting encounters with people you are truly meant to serve.

#1 Know what you DO want.

No matter where you are on your path to growing your business, it’s likely that you have spent time thinking about who your ideal target market is. If you’ve done it properly, you know both the demographics and psychographics of those you most want to serve. You know what challenges they are facing, the fears that keep them up at night, the shifts they want to make and the results they want to create. These are the things that describe your ideal client.

The problem is that most people stop there. They fail to go deeper by describing the more subtle nuances of those they most want to work with. Things such as one’s state of mind, personality traits, outlook on life, propensity to blame or take responsibility all impact the quality of our interactions with our clients.

How about you? Have you written down, in detail, a description of your dream client? When you do, you not only lay claim to the type of people you want to serve, but you also put in motion the process of attracting these very people to you.

True Confession: For 33 years I’ve been teaching the art of sales and marketing and I begin every client with the process of defining or refining their target client profile. Yet, only recently, did I realize I needed to revisit this for my own company, Smart Biz Quiz. As our client base has expanded and as the team grew, we stretched our ideal client profile a bit too far. In doing so, our marketing message became cloudy and conversion waned. Knowing its importance, the team and I are revisiting our ideal client profile so we can more effectively speak. Stay tuned for the re-launch of Smart Biz Quiz 3.0 in February.

#2: Know what you DON’T want.

Often the BEST way to define what you do want is to start with what you don’t want.

Think back to a time in the past when things went awry with a client.  Perhaps you experienced frustration, worry, friction or a complete breakdown in communication. These past experiences leave clues to what you don’t want. For me, I look for signs during our initial conversation that may hint of a disconnect. Things like not taking responsibility, placing blame on others for their lack of success or overall negativity suggest we are not a great fit.

#3: The closer you work together, the more selective you need to be.

For our subscription-based assessment software, our ideal client profile is pretty simple. We serve coaches, consultants, authors, and service providers who are looking to 1) grow their list, 2) deepen their connection with their community and 3) have a process for closing more ideal clients. We serve them via Office Hours and Get-it-done Jam Sessions, so the interaction with me is quite minimal.

On the other hand, private coaching and consulting clients have much greater access to me. From phone calls, emails and even text, my relationship with them is more intimate. That’s why my private client profile includes things like… a positive attitude, a willingness to take action, a deep desire to serve, a sense of gratitude and caring communication. When these traits are present, I know I am able to do my best work.

#4 Trust that the right people will come.

In 2018, after I took a 3-month sabbatical after my mom passed away, I remember returning to my work with a greater sense of resolve to choose my private clients more carefully. I promised myself that I would only take on clients whose mission I could get behind and who fit our ideal profile. Weeks went by and conversations were held, but I never found a fit.

Then, slowly, I began to tweak my messaging. Rather than try to appeal to everyone, I wrote with the intention to speak to the heart of those I genuinely wanted to serve. Like magic, my ideal clients began to emerge. Positive, successful women who were ready to do the work required to take their business to the next level raised their hand and joined my tribe.

Holding out for the kind of clients you want to serve can be scary. But I’ve found, that by doing so, you make room for the right people and in the end, you are able to do the work and create the results you are meant to inspire.

What’s Your Takeaway?

As you consider these four insights on the importance of “finding the fit,” what comes up for you? Can you see the correlation between clients who were a fit and the joy you felt supporting them? Are there instances when you said yes to the money and then regretted it? If yes, you are not alone. Saying no to people who are not a perfect fit is a muscle that needs building. But trust me… your life and your business will be better for it. ;0)

Closing thoughts…

OK, I can’t help myself. I’ve got to ask you this question… are you my ideal client? ;0) When I share the profile of who I most want to serve is there a part of you that says that’s me? If so, let’s explore what that might be. Simply take 4 minutes to complete the Business Acceleration Quiz to share where you are on your path. From there, we will explore how we can best serve you to take your business to the next level. There are not accidents.


Jane Deuber is a business strategist with 33 years and 7 successful start-ups to her credit and helped over 15,000 entrepreneurs experience greater fulfillment and improved profits through her programs and products. To learn how Jane and her team can help you expand your reach and increase profits, check out her two companies, Global Experts Accelerator and Smart Biz Quiz.