I had a question and the answer was me. Are You Your Own Dream Client?
“Well, are you treating yourself like you’re the client?,” I ask my friend over matcha lattes. The question visibly shakes him. Before that moment, he was sharing his current journey along the twisty, gut-wrenching, pothole-riddled road of startup entrepreneurship. He was spinning. The same ole same ole work was making him feel stuck. He wasn’t growing. His goals were obscured. It never occurred to him to gain perspective and momentum by making himself his own client. I’ve been there, a few times.
Like many entrepreneurs, I entered the fray because I know I have something different and I’m desirous to offer it. In my case, I love combining branding, publicity and content strategy. I mix them together and produce media-driven campaigns that serve biz dev goals as much as they do actual publicity efforts. I don’t do these things alone. So, like many entrepreneurs, I was expecting my creative desire to be fulfilled through a client.
I wasn’t hoping for just any client. I was waiting for “Superclient”. That’s the one with the dream budget and the godlike intrepid spirit. Superclient has a team of visionaries and together, you make the impossible possible. Amazingly, Superclient never says, “No”. They only ask, “How can we make this idea work?” And with that attitude, Superclient will save you from the burning building of entrepreneurial peril. Once in this magnificent creature’s arms, you too can achieve flight.
Imagine my surprise when Superclient wasn’t arriving and that building (i.e. my startup peril) kept burning. My epiphany began with a client who pitched me about creating an artistic, newsworthy content campaign around a product that would normally never be seen as art. After months of rigorous planning and aligning publicity, influential experts and social media, corporate decided to remove all of the art from the idea.
That decision evaporated any differentiation and newsworthy sizzle. It was now a standard corporate thing, tasteful but basic. My bank account was happy but my portfolio was no better for my efforts or time. Plus, I didn’t even grow my skills or have anything sexy to pitch for my own business development. All I gained was an unimaginative campaign yielding mediocre results. I finally screamed, “Enough,” which is the shortest prayer in the world.
My dream client had to become me. The only way my conversations would change was if I changed. I sat down and had a meeting with myself. I listed my ideal projects and picked one that seemed most feasible for me. I then went looking for “Superpartner”. That’s the one who’s willing to team up with you, combine their budget with yours and help you promote the project.
With me as the client, all I need are alliances in order to gain an immediate team and duplication. I began to roll out campaigns that stretched my skills and imagination while infusing my portfolio with my own vision. This is just a sampling of what I can do and that gives me opportunities to expand my business development.
Today, I have dreamy clients who seek the dynamics displayed in my new portfolio. The portfolio that I built by taking a risk on myself draws clients who seek the thought-provoking, unexpected media campaigns I love to create.
Always being my own dream client helps me challenge myself. It fuels my growth. It makes me elevate. Plus, I never say, “No”. I only ask, “How can we make this idea work?”