Having a vast array of clients is every company's dream, especially when you're a startup. It's a sign that things are finally going your way, providing the opportunity to test new skills and refine those that got you as far as they have. However, a common misconception is that the ultimate goal is to have the biggest clientele possible. It's an unfortunate truth, but not every client is a good fit for a given business. Generally, building a great clientele is better than building the biggest clientele, and here's why.
1. Your Efforts Are Focused
Companies with large clienteles tend to offer services that cover a large spectrum, and it's common to see them spread themselves too thin, especially when they're still young. For startups, knowing exactly what can and can't be done is crucial. With attention scattered anywhere at any given moment, it's absolutely necessary to focus on doing what you do best, and that's satisfying clients through your focused services. Take Paul Becker of Pinpoint Systems, who explained to me why serving specific clients was so beneficial for his own growth. "We're able to do broader integration work, but we focus on marketing systems, and it pays off nicely for our clients. We developed a great deal of expertise in this particular service, and it has paid nice dividends."
2. You Create Niche Expertise
That brings us to niche expertise. Beyond having a focused team, working with the right clientele pushes a company to be the best at what they do. It's a matter of knowing your clients and what they need, which naturally creates niche expertise. Taking on a broad client base is fine, but there are plenty of instances where a client's needs aren't fully aligned with the niche you've created. Paul tells me, "If a potential client needs something that isn't within our specific area of expertise, we understand that they're likely to be served better elsewhere. It's not a matter of thinking we're better than anyone; it's a matter of agreeing that our service and their needs don't quite line up, and that's okay."
3. Relationships Are More Meaningful
This brings us to the relationships built through selectively building a clientele. By nature, the network created through this practice will be smaller, yes, but it'll be stronger and more helpful, which begs the question, would you rather have a massive network of people you know, or a focused network of like-minded entrepreneurs, ready to help? Again, Paul tells me, "Leveraging relationships is key to success, especially as a startup. Getting Pinpoint off the ground would've been drastically more difficult without the network we each had fostered over time, connections that were deep thanks to our individual expertise. Starting a company cold is possible, but it's not easy."