Craig: Good points, all of them.
I started my reply with the `all eggs in one basket` observation because it is a killer, and very real, issue many of us face. One big client is better than none, but anytime my income is dependent on one client anywhere north of 20%, I get nervous. To mix metaphors, one in the hand is worth two in the bush, but not if the one in your hand is the only one in your basket. Maybe that`s a better Easter analogy, I don`t know...
We`ve all heard the statistics for startup success: 95% fail within five years, and the two top reasons are under-capitalization and growing too quickly. The first seems obvious, although economics 101 (the day they hand out the syllabus) is the rule of scarce resources. The second seems completely counter-intuitive. The real issue, i believe, is not getting one`s ego wrapped up in their business. In other words, so what if you have five offices versus one? Does that make you a bigger deal, or a quicker casualty.
A lot of this startup stuff is emotional and goes back to our very core as people. I experienced a fair amount of inactivity and paralysis in getting Brand Counsel, LLC off the ground. I wasted weeks and weeks. When I finally was honest with myself, the core issue was that I didn`t believe that I was worthy of a successful firm, so I was goofing off. Once I reframed that issue as having been in my industry for a long time and having worked for firms with much less intelligence and resourcefulness as I had, I blew out the blockage and got busy.
One issue down the road, after the first clients get in the stable, is when to fire a client. Also, knowing when to walk away from bad business - i.e. overly-demanding clients, getting beat up over price, clients trying to commoditize your services and gaining leverage over you - is a skill worth untold value.
At the end of the day (or better yet, at the beginning of the day when you have the energy), the real, underlying issue is: Do you know passionately that if a client does not do business with you, they`ll be doing themselves a disservice?
Are you the best in your industry? This isn`t a rah-rah motivational thing, but a true objective test. If you truly are (or can become that with training, resources, time, etc), then client demands turn into client requests. Or even better, if you`ve truly anticipated demand and your unique positioning, you call all the shots and they just write the checks.
Have you ever asked yourself, `I wonder if my client ever beats up his attorney for rates, or his CPA, or his doctor?`. Of course not. That would be silly. But we let them do it to us (or otherwise make unreasonable demands) and we go along with it just to `have some business`. The only thing more valuable than your equity is your time, and that`s the one resource none of us can ever recover.
So go out there tomorrow morning, my Startup Nation friends, with an attitude of confidence, resolve, a wealth mindset, and serve the hell out of your clients better than anyone in your field. Sooner than later, it will be you making the demands, not them.