Use my Money-Fun Matrix to gain clarity on what types of clients and projects to work on in your business.
More than 20 years ago I created this 2×2 matrix to assess the value of the clients and projects I worked on during the year. It’s a simple four-quadrant analysis tool that lays out very clearly for me what to continue working on, and where I should focus future business efforts.
I’ve shared this tool in workshops and in my coaching, and it’s always a treat to see the smiles and the shift in participants’ expressions when they realize what a positive impact this analysis can have on their own work.
Money x Fun
While there are many filters you can use to analyze clients and projects, this matrix is based on just two factors: Money and Fun. It asks the question: Was it worthwhile to work with this client or on this project, both from a professional and financial viewpoint?
Here’s how the Money-Fun matrix works:
The graph has four quadrants, based on two axes. The horizontal axis is money, moving from low to high, left to right. The vertical axis is fun, from low to high.
Think back on the clients and projects you’ve work on over the past year (or whatever time frame you choose), and determine into which quadrant each would fall.
Where Are Your Projects on the Quadrant?
Quadrant 1 (lower left): Low Fun, Low Money
This is the worst quadrant. The work was not rewarding, either professionally or financially. These clients/projects are scratched from your list.
Quadrant 2 (lower right): High Money, Low Fun
This work did not stretch you professionally, but you were well compensated. In the ideal world, you would not need to consider this work, but bills have to be paid.
Quadrant 3 (upper left): High Fun, Low Money
These clients and projects were fun, they stretched your capabilities, but the budgets were slim and there was little or no profit to be made. This quadrant can be worthwhile if it increased your skill set, expanded your network, or led to referrals for future work.
Quadrant 4 (upper right): High Fun, High Money
This is the ideal situation. The work was challenging and expanded your skill set. The clients were appreciative, and you were well compensated. This is where you want to focus future marketing efforts — either to do more work with past clients in this quadrant, or to find other clients and projects who fit this profile.
Unless you take time to analyze your clients and projects, you won’t know where to invest your time, energy, and financial resources to chart the best path for your business growth.
Chart Your Future
My goal each year is to work with clients or on projects that keep me above the horizontal “fun” threshold. I don’t mind doing some projects with limited budgets if they offer something else in return, such as the chance to explore new intellectual arenas or meet new colleagues. Granted, when you’re first starting your business, you may not have the luxury to turn down paying work. But as your company matures, you will discover that where you focus your thinking (and marketing) is often where you will end up. The Money-Fun Matrix can guide you in gaining clarity on what types of clients and projects you want to work on in your business.
The Power of 2×2
As this example shows, a 2×2 matrix can present fundamental variables and reveal powerful insights. In fact, the 2×2 matrix is one of the 5 essential shapes of Visual IP I recently wrote about in Visual IP: What Shape Do Your Ideas Take?
Masters of Visual IP understand that simple graphics can communicate more clearly than hundreds of words. How might you juxtapose two elements to demonstrate their relationship in a 2×2 matrix? What two elements would you choose to harness on this tool of visual persuasion — and what four outcomes would they represent?