By Andrew Neitlich

Reinvent yourself

By Andrew Neitlich

I once got some great advice about dating: “Want to date a ’10’? Then be a ’10’.”

The same is true in business. If you want ’10’ clients — well-known, high-paying, exciting assignments — then you have to be a ’10’ developer/designer.

Sometimes that means reinventing yourself. Fortunately, that’s not terribly hard to do in business. In fact, I’m doing some reinvention of my own right now. I’ve grown a bit weary of certain types of clients that call from time to time (boring, me-too companies), and want to work exclusively with dynamic companies with unique business propositions.



– I’ve gotten testimonials/endorsements from investment bankers and others who work with these sorts of companies.

– I’ve built up referral releationships with the same folks (and continue to do so).

– Coming soon is a new website with a value proposition/marketing message that speaks more powerfully to my target audience.

– I’ve adjusted my solution set to meet the needs of this group.

– I’ll be writing and speaking to this group shortly, in order to get visible.

We create perceptions of ourselves through our language and through our appearance (both in marketing materials and in how we carry ourselves).

In a snap, we can determine to be something different and carry that off — so long as we have the kind of language and appearance that resonates with our intended audience.

Note: If you think this means “fake it til you make it” it doesn’t. It’s more than that. You have to have substance behind you, in the form of experience, a sound understanding of your market’s needs, a marketing message that get their attention, and a network that endorses you. It takes time, but you can do it.

Think a bit about what a ’10’ client is to you, and how you can reinvent yourself to be a ’10’ service provider.

  • pdxi

    I love this idea, and it’s something I’ve put to use many times.

    As you grow, and as your business grows, there will always be another enticing mountain to climb. A new challenge. Prepare yourself as much as possible to climb that mountain, and set about doing it.

    “Reinventing oneself” sounds a little dishonest at first glance, but it isn’t. All it really means is that you are setting new standards for your clients, and yourself. If you want to raise your standards in order to get better clients, you have to raise the bar in terms of your performance as well.

    Maybe “echelon shift” is a better phrase? :)

  • mrka

    you’ve given me great food for thought.

  • MarkB

    Andrew, your posts are always worth reading. Thank you!

  • I think I missed something in the translation. Are you saying you’re altering your business model to refer these types of wearysome clients to other businesses that are happy to deal with them, or you are specifically targeting them to get more of their business yourself?

  • aneitlich


    Neither. I’m simply de-emphasizing that sort of client and moving to target more dynamic, leading-edge companies.

  • bohus


    I thought over the years that you stressed that the leading-edge companies (technology wise) were not the ones that made money, but the me-toos that came along later when the market was established?

  • aneitlich

    By leading-edge, I mean exciting, dynamic, progressive technology firms doing interesting work with high-potential markets.

    I DON’T mean the corner computer repair shop.

  • mrka

    I guess Andrew is just trying to emphasis on the fact that we need to “THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

  • Benny

    “Want to date a ‘10′? Then be a ‘10′.”

    Then why do i see fat ugly blokes with stunning women??…ah yes!…Money!

    Aside from thinking to much about that comment, a really great food-for-thought article. It definately got the old cogs turning.

  • Sounds neat.

    To get a ’10’ client, first think of the ’10’ to make you needed. :)

  • Then why do i see fat ugly blokes with stunning women??…ah yes!…Money!

    Says a lot about these types of women, doesn’t it?

  • nik

    Then why do i see fat ugly blokes with stunning women??…ah yes!…Money!

    Says a lot about these types of women, doesn’t it?

    ever consider that ‘being a 10’ in those factors that you can influence – like personality, humor, ways of being, etc… gets stunning women??? but I guess its just easier for you to think its money, that way you don’t have to risk anything… ;)

  • Then why do i see fat ugly blokes with stunning women??…ah yes!…Money!

    Yes and no. ‘Being a 10’ is about being an ‘attractive package’, and there are many different ways of assembling that package. Looks and money are just two aspects.

    Of course, money might facilitate other aspects. For instance, it might give someone more freedom to have fun and be spontaneous. It also might allow them to dress more sharply. And of course, being able to accumulate wealth might give someone a lot of self confidence, and people are drawn to those with confidence. It’s usually more complex than just having cash.

  • I like your thoughts, but what you’re doing, I just see as normal business development.

    Client expect a level of service and proffessionalism that matches their own. So usually, if you want serious clients you’ve got to be serious as well. Your identity has to match the image you’re trying to create, otherwise sooner or later your clients will see right though you.

    Building credibility though testimonials is the next best thing to personal referals.

    I’ve been in business for over 5 years now, and have build my business entirely on personal referals. I’ve never spend a dollar on marketing, and none the less, almost every week I have to turn new clients down, because I can’t keep up with all the work my clients are giving me.

    From my point of view, you’re doing the right thing, but remeber this: keep reinventing yourself continuously. Even though business is good now, it won’t be in the long run, if you don’t stay on top of changes in the marked and changes in your own business preferences.

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