Going freelance? Launching a creative firm? When prospecting for clients, author Pamela Slim warns that you should plant far more seeds than you think you'll need.

Pamela Slim's new book, Body of Workis full of sage, no-nonsense career advice. The noted business coach and author of Escape from Cubicle Nation offers insights on building a meaningful and successful career based on her experience mentoring entrepreneurs, executives and employees. 

In this excerpt from Body of Work, Slim makes the case for casting a very wide net for potential clients:

The 20X Rule

Much of my time spent coaching is egging my clients on so they finish their websites, pitch new clients, and test and try new products in the market.

The enemy of a new entrepreneur is endless planning and perfection.

After celebrating that they finally took a serious first step, I often get a slightly dejected e-mail or deflated check-in on the next coaching call.

"I sent that e-mail to two potential clients, but neither of them has gotten back to me yet."

"I designed and launched the teleclass we talked about, but only one person signed up. And it was my sister."

It is at this moment that I have to explain the 20X Rule.

In business, as well as in other areas of life, you have to sow twenty times more seeds than you think is realistic or necessary to make things happen.

You will set yourself up for heartbreak and mediocrity if you don't radically adjust your expectations for the amount of outreach and connections it takes to do creative work.

What do you think would happen over the course of one year if:

  • Instead of reaching out to one new journalist a month, you reached out to twenty? 
  • Instead of reaching two prospective clients a month, you reached forty?
  • Instead of testing three new product ideas a year, you tested sixty?

Chances are you would see some radically different results.

When I first started my newsletter eight years ago, it took me two months to write one article.

Now I crack out twenty times the content in one month and don't even break a sweat.

If you get results sooner, great.

Maybe you will have fantastic luck and with some strategic thinking will reach out to three qualified clients and book your business.

I would rather you expect to reach out to sixty and be happy it took fewer contacts than be crushed that you don't sign up your first client the first time you reach out to them. Building your body of work is a marathon. Train for it.

Reprinted from Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together by Pamela Slim with permission of Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) Pamela Slim, 2013.