At Work

Small Business: Break Away From Client Dependence

Growing a business can be difficult, especially if you have that ONE big client that you just “can’t let down.” But the truth is: if you have only one big client, and several more that come and go…you’re really a sub-contractor (so to speak).

If this client pays in full and on-time, it makes it even more difficult to dedicate time to grow YOUR business instead of his. Your employees now rely on HIM to pay their bills.

What this client is doing is transferring all the risk on to you. He doesn’t need to add payroll for a division of HIS business that could go south at any time. And what if the day comes when he decides he just doesn’t need your part of the business anymore?

This is an unfortunate, but all too real situation for many small businesses. Let’s explore some ways to avoid this, and keep your coffers full.


Five ways to diversify your customer base:

1) COLD CALLING: I know what you’re thinking, and I hate it too. If you don’t want to do it yourself, hire an outbound call company who does. But the simple fact is that cold calling WORKS. Think about it…who picks up the phone anymore? Why do you think that telemarketing agencies STILL EXIST? People have a genuine desire to not disappoint someone else. That’s why the phone is such a valuable weapon. It’s simply a numbers game. If you dial enough numbers you WILL get clients. I sincerely hope you try to prove me wrong. I will sleep better knowing you’re making a profit.

2) PUMP UP YOUR PR: Get as much attention from the media as possible. Put out a press release about everything you do. Carrying a new product…put out a press release. Expanding your area…put out a press release. A press release can reach MANY media outlets with HUNDREDS of new eyeballs viewing your brand. This is in essence…FREE ADVERTISING. You won’t be paying for a TV or newspaper spot, but TV and newspaper “people” will see your press release and become aware. Even if you only become a “filler” story for one of them, this will result in all kinds of new clients.

3) SOCIAL MEDIA: It’s more than your daughter tweeting her friends, or your wife posting recipes. Social Media is a vital…no, MANDATORY part of business these days. I really shouldn’t even classify it as a way to diversify your client base. It should be in the mandatory business practice category. It’s just that important. But nonetheless, it IS a great way to attract new customers and diversify your client base. To a small business, it can mean feet in the door. Put out local coupons and contests. Post pictures and events that are coming up. The fact is that almost everyone is on SOME sort of social media these days, but just like CLIENT diversification…you need to have social media diversification as well. I mean…my mom doesn’t even have a Facebook account, but she has a Pinterest! You never know where you’ll catch your next customer. GET OUT THERE!

4) NETWORKING: We live our life staring at our smartphone screens. When you have the opportunity to get out and meet people face to face, it can do wonders for your business. People just aren’t as social anymore. Anyone can forget an email, and in today’s world, they get buried in about two hours, but NOBODY will forget a handshake and a smile. If you’re not afraid to speak in front of a group, even better. Not only will you meet people, but anyone who attends an event sees the speaker as the “expert” in the field. Everyone wants to do business with the expert. Besides, when you do business face to face, people are more likely to tell others about their experience with you. Social media may reach hundreds at a time, but NOTHING is more powerful than word-of-mouth marketing.

5) PARTNER WITH YOUR COMPETITION: What am I saying??? Yep…partner with them. Trust me, there’s plenty of money to go around. Plus, you can do promotions TOGETHER and reap the benefits. Just be smart about it…do DUEL promotions. For example: you own a hardware store, you go to the hardware store down the road and want to do a “Spring gardening sale.” You discount shovels and rakes, he discounts wheelbarrows. The benefit is, you split ad costs AND you can share a customer list! You could form a “local hardware association” or anything you want. Customers will embrace this type of business, and I can assure you, you will both come out on top.


Bottom line: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Paul Weber, CEO of Entrepreneur Advertising Group says it best: “Show me a company with more than 10 percent of its business with one customer or more than half of its business in one industry and I’ll show you a company at risk of being impacted by one company or one industry.”

Well said, Paul…well said.