Music Gro: Growing Creatives

What is Wrong with the ‘Ideal Client’ Mantra & What to Do Instead (Part 5)

My favorite college professor, Chris Sadler frequently said, “There is no one best way to do anything.” I quote him often in my own teaching and business coaching. It was his organizational communication classes which taught me systems theory, organizational development and so much more. 

So as I wrap up this blog series about the ‘ideal client’ I want to remind everyone that ‘there is no one best way’ to fill your studio or clientele. There are many ways to go about building and maintaining thriving businesses. You have the ability and authority to run your business in a way that works best for you (regardless of the latest trends). If you want to use ideal client strategies that is up to you. My only hope is that if you choose to use those strategies you will do so knowing the pitfalls and consequences of using what I believe to be a troublesome strategy.

Here is a review of some strategies mentioned and some additional tips to help you avoid the pitfalls of the ‘Ideal Client’ and run a successful business.

1. Accept and enjoy a wide variety of clients – all types; embrace the diversity, the imperfections, let go of your idea of everything having to be perfect, ideal, or run perfectly…it is unhealthy at best. If a client relationship does not work out it’s okay…especially because you have a large pool open to you.

2. Know yourself well – What type of leader are you? What environments are best for you? What are your strengths? What do you least enjoy doing as a business owner and/or teacher, or musician. Know what works for you and does not work for you. But also know WHY. Be able to communicate that clearly with clients. This is a great area for personal coaching and professional development if you do not already know the answers to these questions. 

3. Be CLEAR about your purpose, your why, your mission or vision, your just cause…what are you here for? I often recommend reading The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. I facilitate book groups around this book, and have my own workbook you can purchase if you need help digesting and making sense of all the great information in the book. When you are CLEAR about your direction you will be less likely to fall prey to people selling fad strategies or poor advice.

4. Learn how to take yourself out of the equation – on some levels, it is not about you. What you still need to learn, may very well come from clients you never would have expected. Stop centering yourself and making your business completely about you. Make it about your cause, your mission, serving your clients and community, and ditch your ego for a minute. Be open and willing to learn.

5. Take a look at how you are as a client to others – do you read all the emails carefully? Do you pay on time all the time? Do you make special requests often? Do you question your provider’s strategies? Do you show up late or try to reschedule due to conflicts? Would you meet your own ideas of an ideal client? If you are holding other people to standards that you yourself cannot meet, then I invite you to let go of the ‘ideal client’ mantra altogether. If you wouldn’t work with you, why should your clients want to work with you?

6. Communication and Connection create REAL relationships with your clients. But you have to be willing to have clear, consistent, kind communication. You also have to be willing to have hard conversations, but honestly and kindly. Work on your own emotional IQ and maturity…make sure you can communicate in healthy, supportive ways which highlight the kind of characteristics you want to bring out in your clients. If you value and need flexibility – call that out when you see it in clients and share examples in your communication. Intentionally build the culture you want through your own behavioral and communication examples. 

7. Reclaim your authority – you don’t need to ‘do what everyone else is doing’ in business. Remember that just because a certain strategy worked for someone else, does not mean it will work for you. You are unique and valuable. You can run your business incredibly well without relying on tropes, bad advice, or doing what someone else is doing. After all, you are the expert on YOU, so don’t give away your authority. Reclaim your unique voice. Operate your business as only YOU can. The world desperately needs your authentic and beautiful self. 

8. Be of Service – to your clients and your community. Making a good living is vital. But so is making meaningful impacts on your community. Listen to the needs of your clients, find out what the community needs, be willing to serve, share, and uplift others. 

9. When it comes to sound business strategies consult business resources and professionals who know business. When working with a coach, don’t fall for generic templates or advice. The best coaches do not offer answers and ‘simple steps.’ Instead, great coaches ask great questions and help you discover the answers you need to help you move forward in ways that work best for you. 

If you found any part of these posts helpful, please share with colleagues and friends. 

If you are ready to step out of the tropes and into a business built upon your amazing skills and authenticity, but you don’t know where to start, I invite you to connect with me. I am here to encourage you, to thank you for what you bring to the world, to support you, and to help your Creative work make a bigger impact. Email me at, or book a free consult at

~ Melissa

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