If you have ever suspected that you are missing something essential in your business, read on.

It is 5 am in the morning in the year 2017, and I am sitting at my computer—desperate. (Who wouldn’t be at that time of day!) But I was a woman on a mission.

I am trying to write my first book. I set myself a challenge: to write 50,000 words in 50  days—enough words for a book. I am busy running a business as well, so I get up at 5 am every morning and write until I hit the 1000-word mark, usually about an hour.

Do you ever look back and feel absolutely sickened by all the hours you have spent doing stuff that ultimately didn’t help you one jot (ok, maybe that is just me)?

That was those 50 hours. Yes, I published a book a few months later, but it wasn’t that book. Those 50,000 words remain sitting in a folder of shame, there to remind me of my mistake*.

The reason that I could never publish the book I wrote in the wee hours was that I hadn’t asked the essential question that every author must ask before they write a word: who am I writing for?

But it was worse than that. Because that question, as powerful as it is, is not enough to power you through writing a book.

For authors of business books, that question can be translated into “who is my ideal client?” If you have ever tried to answer it, you will know that it’s as hard as feeding a tablet to a cat.

My massive fail with the first book was that I didn’t even pick an audience at all (some vague notion in my head). But later when I came to try it, I’d pick one audience, and start feeling chuffed. Then I’d remember another bunch of folk who might be better, and I’d start to second guess myself (one of my favourite pass-times—hours can drift by).

But this question is a game changer if you take some time to answer it as honestly as you can.

If you google “persona templates” you’ll find heaps of guides to identifying your ideal client. I have one, and so does Paul Higgins. I like Paul’s because he shows you how to narrow down your list and then pick one.

That is what I am doing here but in a different way. Let’s say that you have the basics ticked off, including that they:

  • have a problem you can solve
  • understand your value
  • have money to spend
  • do stuff rather than just wanting to do stuff

Then ask yourself this killer question: Which of my current or past client would I like to clone? Who would I be happy to see walk through my door again and again like some GIF on a loop?

There are two reasons why this question is powerful. One is that when our minds manifest the ideal client, they seem to turn up in our lives. The other is that writing a book with a single person in mind keeps us honest.

Hey, a warning here: DO NOT write your ideal client’s name in the comments below (unless you know they would like that). But DO comment if someone came to mind. How would your life be different if all your clients were that good? Write a book just for them and see.

*PS: Actually, this was the best mistake I ever made because I created my program, 90 Days to Your Brilliant Business Book as a result of that failure. First step? Identify the ideal reader.