Building a client base is a challenge for OH professionals. If you are a start-up business, you face the inevitable catch 22 - you don't have a proven track record, so providing references can be difficult. And because you can't provide references, doors close.
However, even if you are established, you face the difficulties of sustaining the business in the face of increased competition, red tape, and numerous business responsibilities.
Here are some of the ways that may help you get the edge in building a client base that is not only sustainable, but will also provide future opportunities.
Develop a business plan
Make an inventory of all of the resources you have available. Be realistic about the time, personnel and money that you have, together with the energy and commitment you can provide. Decide how these can be allocated to clients to achieve maximum benefit. Know where you are and where you want to be in the next one, two and three years. Review that business plan, and update it to reflect changes in your business.
When you are approaching potential new clients, do not try to disguise what you are, or what you are not offering. Instead, focus on what you can offer explain clearly how you can benefit the client, and how this is going to help their business prosper.
Understand which clients are right for you, and have the willpower to turn down those who are not. Having a client base that does not provide synergy with you or your organisation can seriously hinder the growth of your business, waste valuable resources and time, and cost you money.
Develop a realistic fee schedule
Know what doing business costs you - develop a costing model that can be updated regularly. There are plenty out there on the off-the-shelf market, or your accountant can develop a model that you can update.
Establish your pricing and be clear about it with your clients. If you need to discount fees, clearly indicate how much you would normally charge. That way, your clients will at least know what you would usually charge when they recommend you to others. If possible, instead of lowering prices, add value - clients will pay for services they think will enhance or assist their b