I’ve recently been reading The Four-Hour Work Week (*aff) by Tim Ferriss and I have to tell you, I’m absolutely loving it!
I’m only 45-50 pages (UPDATE: I’ve been loving the book so much, I’m already 127 pages in now and it’s only been a few more days! I highly recommend it!) in and I’ve already changed aspects of my life, changed some ways I do business, and I’ve fired almost 80% of my design clients.
If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about, if you haven’t read it yet, you totally should and then you’ll know why I fired 80% of my clientele.
No I’m not crazy
A lot of people think I’m crazy when I tell them this strategy (and they thought Tim was crazy too, probably) but I’m not. And neither is he.
We both just got tired of overworking ourselves completing less-than-important tasks for low-paying clients.
The 80/20 rule
So here’s where this “crazy” idea comes from:
There’s this thing that you’ve probably heard of called the 80/20 rule. Now, the 80/20 rule has been stretched and used in ways it wasn’t meant to be used, but Tim explains the origins of the 80/20 rule in his book. The short of it goes like this:
Vilfredo Pareto, a controversial sociologist suggested the theory that 80% of the wealth in the world is possessed by 20% of the world. He then applied this theory to all sorts of different aspects of the world and was shocked by what he found.
Indeed, in his garden, 80% of the peas he harvested came from only 20% of the pea plants. You can ultimately summarize this “rule” as follows: 80% of your results come from 20% of your work.
What does this have to do with design?
So what does this have to do with you as a designer?
Take a minute and mentally group your clients into two categories: high-paying clients and low-paying clients.
Now, which of the two groups takes up the bulk of your time? If you’re anything like I was, the low-paying clients take up more of your time. For me, at least, I had more low-paying clients and spent the bulk (probably about 80%) of my time working for them. They were the pickiest, the cheapest, and the most demanding of all my clients.
Identify the 20%, Fire the rest
So what did I do?
I identified the 20% of clients who paid the highest rates for the least amount of work.
Then I fired the rest of them.
Did I lose some money? Sure. Am I happier. Yep. Do I regret it? Nope.
Here’s why: While I may have lost 20% of my income upfront, I was able to take that 80% of clients and dedicate that time to finding passive ways of making money (including writing for this blog more often) and finding a few more clients that fall into the ‘high-paying’ category.
I dare you to try it
I would love to hear from any of you who dare to give this strategy a try. Fire the 80% of your clients who just don’t bring in the money to justify the work you do for them.
If it’s hard to rip off the band-aid all at once, try firing a few of your least rewarding clients first. Just one or two. Then keep firing until you have optimized your design business.
And when new clients come along, make sure they fit into the 20% of clients that will bring you the 80% of your income. Give it a try and let me know what happens…
PS. Happy Halloween!!