Insights and Resources

Common traits of our most successful clients

By Jim Thompson

I’ve lost count of how many clients we’ve had and how far they went on the journey with us, but some have thrived, and others haven’t and that’s not a factor of the quality of work we did for them. 

They all had a similar level of enthusiasm as we worked our way through the positioning process and got them to the point when it was back on them to fulfil their end of the bargain. 

Sure there was some discomfort along the way, there normally always is and that’s a good thing as it creates better outcomes, and it means that we are doing something different and most importantly leaving their comfort zones. 

But there’s nothing more professionally demoralising than doing great work that a client has paid you for and not seeing it followed through to its potential. 

So in the NO BS spirit I thought I’d look for the common threads of our most successful clients to help us and those that follow know what they are walking into and whether or not we are a good fit for each other. 

Here’s what I identified as some common traits of our most successful clients: 

An entrepreneurial leader 

The level of dominance varies but there is no doubt that a driven leader outperforms a committee approach. Decisions can be made more quickly, and the firm has the agility to focus around a particular position without internal politics getting in the way. 

A willingness to devote time to thinking 

It may surprise you but many if not most professionals we meet find it difficult to spend time on thinking and developing ideas for their own firm even though that’s what most of them are doing for their clients.  

The need to do something deemed more “productive” or billable stifles the ability of the firm to execute something different.  

The old “I’m too busy” adage. 

Yes, you have to put food on the table but if you have this mindset, you’re dead before you even start. 

In my opinion, you have a responsibility to your clients to devote time to working on your business and doing the hard thinking necessary to deliver better work. 

A sure sign of trouble is when I realise I’m starting to care more about a client’s business than they do.

A willingness to write 

Related to the willingness to think – the best thing about writing is that it forces you to think – maybe that’s why so many avoid it or put it off. 

And if you made it through university you can write. You did it then because you had to and that’s the difference. 

We all struggle with it but there are many ways to help get it done, but at the end of the day it rests in your lap. 

And in case you’re wondering, we at One Rabbit write all of our own content.  

A desire to be different 

There’s safety in doing what everyone else is doing but if you want to stand out from the crowd then you have to be different, and I don’t mean cosmetics.  

A perceived downside of being different is that you won’t appeal to everyone but that’s the upside – those you do appeal to will value you more. 

If you can’t overcome this fear, you won’t get there, we help most of our clients through this and don’t worry we have been there too, the key however is to stick to it when we aren’t there next to you.    

Confidence and belief in their own abilities 

If you’re going to put yourself out there as an expert, you have to have confidence in your abilities and not be afraid to tell prospects and clients what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. 

Many of our clients admit they suffer from imposter syndrome. That’s okay, we did too at the start of our journey. You may need to fly by the seat of your pants for a while, build knowledge as you go, but over time you WILL become of greater value to your clients than you are now. 

You are doing it for them as much as yourself and how else do you expect to get there?.   

Not scared to narrow their focus 

The key to market penetration without a massive chequebook is going narrow. If you’re in “generalist” world then you can only talk in generalisations and if everyone is your customer then everyone is your competitor. 

If you’re familiar with the term FOMO then you’ll know what I mean, but I often ask my clients, what’s better a small piece of a big pie or a big piece of a small pie? 

I prefer the latter because it is far easier from a marketing perspective and the ability to charge more.  

Aged under 50 or think under 50 

40 to 50 seems to be the sweet spot but age is only relevant if you let it be and age can also be an advantage because you don’t have as much time to put it off.

Think about the future, not the present 

A lot of what we do is about setting the firm up for the long term, building a fence and footprint that will deliver long-term results and benefits tangible and intangible. If it was quick and easy then anyone could do it. 

Think more about their client’s outcomes than themselves 

My experience is that those who embark on the One RabbitTM journey genuinely care about real client outcomes – in fact making a positive difference in their client’s lives. 

You can feel it when they talk to you about what they do. I hate using the word passion but there’s something palpable there, you have to enjoy what you do, if not do something else. 

Not necessarily technical but not scared of it either 

You don’t have to know how to use the tools or how they work. Let someone else worry about that, but burying your head in the sand isn’t going to help you either. 

Don’t take themselves too seriously 

Not sure it matters but it certainly makes them more enjoyable to work with. 

I hope I haven’t put you off but if I have maybe that’s a good thing as one or both of us could have ended up disappointed and neither of us wants that. 

Before you start

Before beginning any engagement and to create a more valuable initial conversation we ask you to download and read our guide.


Inside you will find out more about the One Rabbit philosophy, learn some uncomfortable truths and how to market your firm.

Why it’s so hard for consulting firms to market themselves.
Practical steps you can take to overcome the uncomfortable truth and leapfrog your competitors.
The most common mistakes that consulting firms make in marketing themselves.