Congratulations, you’ve finally done it. You’ve landed that whale of a client – the one that can make a substantial difference in your business. It’s time to do the happy dance and celebrate.
Or is it?
One big client, especially one that takes up the majority of your time and your staff’s time as well can lead you on the road to ruin.
I hate to be a wet blanket but here’s why:
- Working on one big client usually means that your business development efforts slow to a trickle or comes to an immediate halt. (Why do you need to prospect for new business when you have already caught the whale?)
- You and/or your staff become totally absorbed in servicing the one big client while your other clients (potentially) suffer from lack of attention and focus.
- Marketing, PR and promotions may come to a screeching halt (Heck who needs new clients?).
- While you are enjoying an increase in revenue from your one big client you might also be enjoying an increase in (premature) spending.
I don’t mean to imply that you should shy away from trying to land a new big client but you must ask yourself some important questions to make certain that you have the infrastructure to support the new AND existing work.
Here’s what I mean:
- You must develop an operations plan for how you are going to execute the increased volume of work. Will the one big client occupy 20, 40 or 70 percent of your time? Can you implement the work with your existing staff or do you need to make some new hires? Do you have the required cash flow to support the new hires? Most importantly, will be you be able to retain and even grow your existing clients?
- You shouldn’t cease all of your business development efforts. While your “selling” time might be curtailed you must remain visible and on the radar screen of your existing clients, networking sources and other prospects. As they say out of sight, out of mind and you never want to be caught in that situation.
- Do not slip up and do less than stellar work for your existing clients. Remember that even though everything might be fantastic right now and your one big client is deliriously happy things can change quickly and through no fault of your own. For instance your key contact may decide to quit, senior management can decide to bring in another vendor, the client’s business can take a nosedive and so on and so forth. We all know that we can do great work and still lose a client. If the one big client is pretty much your only client or represents an overly large percentage of your revenue, losing them can mean disaster.
In the best of all worlds you will make sure that you have a good mix of clients including those that are large, mid-sized and even clients that are small and (hopefully) growing. The mix is your insurance policy so that if and when you lose a client you won’t miss a beat and business will go on as “normal.”