5 Ways to Find Your Ideal Client as a Small Business

By MBO Partners | May 12, 2024

consultant working at desk

Key Points

If a client doesn’t fit the profile of who you want to work with, it can take away from the enjoyment you find in running your business.

It’s important to find clients who align well with both the way you work as well as the services you offer.

By defining the characteristics of your ideal client, you can better target your promotional and marketing efforts.

Finding new clients isn’t easy, and if a new client doesn’t quite fit the profile of who you want to work with it can take away from enjoying your work. To grow your business with minimal headaches and frustration, it’s important to find clients who align well with both the way you work as well as the services you offer. 

How to Find Your Ideal Client 

Start by thinking about your ideal client. Perhaps you work with this person already, or perhaps this person is a compilation of your favorite aspects of a handful of clients. By defining the characteristics of your ideal client, you can better target your promotional or marketing efforts to attract the people you want to work with. 

Here are five features to consider when looking for new clients.

1. Find Prospective Clients Who Value Your Skills

As an independent professional, you bring an important set of skills and experience to each of your clients. When a client explicitly values your work and treats you with respect, it can lead to higher levels of satisfaction for both parties.  

When picking the clients they work with, 96% of independents said a client who values their work is the single most important factor they take into consideration. Seek out clients who have a reputation for treating their workers well, acknowledge and give credit to their workforce when deserved, prioritize good communication, and treat you as a strategic business partner. 

Up next: 10 Ways to Get New Consulting Clients 

2. Find a Positive Work Environment

In any work environment, it is important to receive respect and trust from your managers and coworkers. This also applies when working as an independent professional. Look for companies that are willing to treat you as part of the team.  

When legally allowable, these factors may include involving you in team activities or providing regular feedback on performance. These small gestures can quickly add up to creating a work environment that is welcoming and positive. 

Check out: 5 Creative Client Engagement Strategies 

3. Ask about Onboarding Processes

A fast and efficient onboarding process can make or break a relationship with a new client. Onboarding can often be complex and cumbersome, filled with client-specific processes that prevent you from getting to work quickly. Ideally, onboarding should include defining project goals and objectives, building out a clear project scope, and providing timely feedback both during and after the engagement. 

Try this: How to Build Strong Relationships with Clients 

4. Pursue Professional Development Opportunities

You’ve likely built your business around a particular set of skills or area of expertise but keeping your skills and knowledge current is important to remain competitive as you continue to grow your business.  

In fact, 88% of independent professionals say learning new skills is either very important or important to their careers. Seeking out work assignments that help you grow professionally or looking for clients who offer skills development education are two ways to enhance your core set of skills, keeping you at the forefront of your field and allowing you bring the latest and greatest to clients. 

Learn more: 10 Valuable Skills Consultants Need to Succeed 

5. Check Out Payment Terms

Compensation is another important factor to consider when choosing a client. How and when you get paid can often matter as much as how much you are getting paid. Long net payment terms or a complex invoicing system can create an administrative burden that takes time away from doing the work you are being paid to do.  

When talking to a potential client, ask about their system for managing payment and consider how their process fits into your ideal workflow. If you’re looking for new project opportunities, be sure to check out MBO’s marketplace, a solution that provides support throughout the entire client engagement experience including simplified onboarding, streamlined client communication, and simplified financial transactions. 

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