Being a business owner is a little like being a mother and it’s judged just as harshly. Every mother (and yes, I speak from experience), at some point thinks she’s just not up to snuff – not as good as she ‘should’ be. Your child should be this or that and as a mother you should be better than you are – you should be a ‘good’ mother (a somewhat illusive thing – a bit like a unicorn).
Particularly when your kids are young, it is a constant battle with your worst inner demons. The ‘should’, however is based on myths perpetrated by media and other mothers desperately trying to make themselves feel better by putting another mother down. Too much ‘should’ for anyone’s liking. And frankly, I was thrilled to swap mothers’ group for work as soon as I could (and yes, I felt guilty about that too).
But, having a business baby isn’t that different.
Back in January, I sat with a group of friends, all business owners, supposedly having an ‘unvarnished’ conversation about how things were really going for us. Everyone had just returned from holidays and they were feeling refreshed and ready to go. Everything was on track, doing well, couldn’t be better – yada, yada, yada. Bluster and bravado.
Until one of the group shyly looked up and said, “um, actually, I’m having some cash flow issues”. And just like that, the conversation got real. Of the eight people in the conversation, six were in exactly the same spot. But no-one was actually going to readily admit to it.
Yup – three-quarters of the group were going to sit there in silence and inner turmoil thinking it was just them and indeed had already been thinking it was just them for a couple of weeks and beating themselves up for somehow not being as good as they ‘should’ be at being a ‘good business owner’.
It was Christmas for goodness sake – almost every business has cash flow issues (aside from retail) at Christmas. People forget to pay, go on holidays, invoices fall into a black hole, business owners are otherwise occupied, etc – read everything’s late being paid. Speak to any accountant or CFO and they’ll tell you the same thing.
It got me thinking how delicate a balance being a business owner can really be. That we feel the need to project our best game face all the time, even when it’s to our own detriment. That we in fact ‘should’ all over our business lives because we’re trying to live up to the image of some mythical creature called a ‘good business owner’.
You know the myths. You should only be doing what you love; if you’re doing what you love – the money should follow; you should be building a highly leveraged business; you should be rich; you should be living the good life; you should be aiming to retire at 55; you should be reaching every forward; you should be better than you are. Failure is not acceptable, but if you do you should do it quickly and be a world-wide success next time.
And my favourite, you should be working only 4 hours a week.
Ugh!! Any wonder as business owners we’re all a bit tired. We’re all chasing a myth that doesn’t really exist. When in reality, most of us are just trying to deliver value to our customers.
Had that one lone voice not spoken up, six people would have continued to ‘should’ all over their business life.
Don’t be the one that didn’t speak up for fear you’re not good enough. So if you get that chance, be that one lone voice. You’ll never know who’s sanity you might be saving that day.
The other day I was talking to a potential new client who was really keen to work with us. But then they sent me an email outlining why our project would have to wait.
I was miffed right?
Actually nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I was rather honoured.
She bared her soul in that email, telling me what had really gone on for her in the last few months and that now she desperately needed a holiday. In a nutshell, her business and our project would have to wait.
I called her as soon as I read the email to let her know not only was it fine and we could wait to do her project, but that I was really touched that she’d shared so openly about what was going on for her.
She said she felt unsure of telling anyone that she wasn’t quite on her business game – that it wasn’t really the kind of thing that you should ‘admit’ to. And that’s where she was wrong.
Humans can smell a lie a mile off. We all like to think we’re skilled at fudging things but really we’re not. We’ve all had that feeling that something’s just not right when someone’s said something and it puts us off for the next time we deal with them.
If my client had made something up, it would have come off as insincere and I would have taken it as a ‘brush off’ when nothing could have been further from her mind. And that would potentially have affected how we’d relate to each other in the future. Instead, she had enough respect for me, and more importantly herself to tell it like it really was.
And that’s something you just don’t see a lot of in business.
Better still, it brought us closer in a way we might never have been otherwise. We found commonality in her moment of truth. What she saw as a her ‘failing’, I assured her was kind of ‘normal’ and something we all shared.
For the record, I don’t think there is a business owner out there, that hasn’t experienced a day, week or month of their business life where they’ve felt off their game, or like crying with tiredness, overwork, client issues, financial issues, etc – me included. Okay maybe not actual tears, especially for the blokes, just the despair that comes with exhaustion and overwhelm that comes with handling a million things at once.
But, just like every other business owner on the planet, I’m just getting on with it, making do with what I’ve got to work with. Am I ever off my game. Some days, yes.
And guess what? Everyone has those days, it’s just that somewhere along the way, we as business owners seem to have forgotten that. As business owners, somewhere along the way, we learned to turn on the ‘bluster and bravado’ show – everything’s fine, going well, business is booming, couldn’t be better, etc. And in so doing, we’ve duped ourselves into thinking that we’re the only one that has bad days.
I for one, think it’s time we were all a little more honest with how things really are. Then maybe we’ll free ourselves up from the need to keep up appearances.
So the next time you’re about to ‘fudge’ your way into, out of or around something, stop and ask if you could build a better relationship by telling the unvarnished truth.
So the carbon tax was in the news again yesterday – this time because it’s likely not to be the huge cost (revenue earner) business (government) thought it might be. But the sad truth is that businesses have incurred higher bills for all sorts of things since its introduction – despite warnings and prosecutions from the ACCC regarding price gouging.
And when costs go up almost everyone starts wanting to drop costs. But let’s face it, there are only so many costs you can reasonably trim, before you lose the ability to actually run your business properly. So if you’ve gotten to the end of your cost-cutting rope – what else can you do?
What about increasing your revenue via new business?
Yes, even in tough(ish) times there’s always more new business to be found. Regardless of good times, tough times, GFCs, etc there’s always someone doing well.
But, if there’s so much new business out there, why then, do so many business owners hate ‘doing’ new business?
Business owners hate being rejected
The reason, research tells us, is because most of us fear being rejected. Yep, me too.
And we give up too quickly. Actually the statistics on how quickly sales people and business owners responsible for new business give up are alarming, but I digress.
One of the biggest reasons we’ve all had miserable experiences with new business in the past is because we’ve focussed on the wrong thing – getting our customer to buy what we’re selling; not selling what the customer wants. Yes, it’s a fine distinction, but it’s a really important one.
It’s not that your product or service isn’t the best in the world – it’s just that your customer, isn’t really that interested.
Customers aren’t interest except in themselves and WIIFM
So if they’re not interested in your product or service – what are they interested in? How do you build new business?
That’s easy – your customers are interested in themselves. Your job as a business owner/service provider is to answer their most critical question – “what’s in it for me?” or WIIFM. If you get your answer to that question right, you’ll have no shortage of new business opportunities.
Next blog post we’ll look at how to put the WIIFM principle to work for your business.
If we can help you better address your customer’s WIIFM needs and build your new buisness portfolio, we’d be delighted to help.
I’m just over halfway through a business coaching program designed to push my business to greater heights.
First came the initial period of challenge to my business development, where my somewhat haphazard book-keeping got seriously pulled into line – that was painful – in fact, dare I admit this, there were almost tears. BUT OMG, did it feel better when it was done. I could finally look at my numbers and know what on a daily basis was happening in my business. I could see what my turnover and my profit was, who owed money, who were slow payers and whether or not I was in growth or decline. Best of all, I could plan properly for the future. (thank you Tracey.)
I was challenged to grow my business too. We looked at my client base, the segments of my client population where the real revenue came from and the clients where I was spending 80% of my time for just 20% of my revenue – and that’s what often kills a business.
Then my coaching team and I set some tough numbers. But given I’m a type-A personality, if you set me a number I will kill myself trying to achieve it – but you’ve gotta love a good challenge. And I’m just a little proud to say I’ve achieve that number most months. I’ve even won (back from my old corporate days) some of my dream clients. And some months I’ve done almost double the usual number. I will most probably end this year having at least doubled (almost tripled) my turnover. Thank you to my gorgeous clients.
I’ve moved from working from home, to renting a desk in a small agency to renting my own own office and taking on team members (some in the office, some telecommute). I’ve got the beginnings of a profile on the speaker circuit. And I’ve even returned teaching at uni (my great love) one morning a week. And I get to read widely (another great love) for clients and on my own industry (making sure I stay up-to-date on an industry that moves at the speed of light).
Gosh – when I read that back – that all seems like you could say I was successful.
BUT…don’t be misled. All of this has come at considerable cost.
- Most weeks, I work 60-80hrs a week. I leave home around 6am and I get back often between8- 10pm (or later). And I usually work a 1/2 day in the office (7am-2pm – yes, that’s 7 hrs – but it’s only 1/2 of one of my days) each weekend. Just in case you’re wondering – my office is only 5 minutes from home – so travel time really doesn’t factor in.
- I haven’t had a proper week-off holiday in I can’t remember how long (it didn’t help that I’d scheduled 10 days off at Christmas and in those 10 days my mother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage4 breast cancer, had surgery, moved in with us (read: total house overhaul to make a comfy private room for her) to recover and then given a terminal diagnosis that knocked us all for a six – oh and we needed to find respite care for her lovely 89 yr old husband with dementia two days before Christmas – which is damned near impossible to find in Sydney – thank you Whitdon Group for finding us the only place available on Christmas Eve).
- Haven’t taken a ‘sick’ day in forever – except the time I ended up in hospital after ‘treating’ myself with some old antibiotics in drawer because I didn’t have time to go to the Dr. Yep – discovered the hard way that I’d suddenly become allergic to penicillin. Now I live in fear of being ill and swallow vitamins like a mad-woman. I simply don’t have time to get sick and the drugs to help are now distinctly limited.
- I don’t spend nearly enough time with my kids (whatever ‘enough time’ actually is). At the moment I’m trying to be home in time to spend 15 minutes each night reading with my six year old at 8pm (thank god she’s a bit of a night owl). And my dogs miss me – they’ve taken to loving my husband more
- I can’t remember the last time I went for a walk (aside from the doorstep to the car, the car to office and back again – oh and the weekly trip around woolworths – does that count?). I’ve regained the 7kgs I tried so hard to lose previously and my body feels really sluggish. Should I admit that I’ve learned to embrace the ‘kaftan’?
- Oh and the piece d’resistance? Despite a goodly turnover, after-tax take home (when you consider all the expenses of running a business) is still not what I was earning as the VP/managing director of a global agency. And I don’t get the holidays or long service accruals that went along with that either.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Because not enough business owners do. Ask any business owner how they’re doing and they’ll usually tell you things are going really well (regardless of what reality is like for them).
So many people (including our ill-informed senior politicians of any flavour) have this idea that people who run their own businesses are ‘lucky’, ‘can work whenever they want to’, make ‘shedloads’ of money, pay no tax and somehow don’t really deserve the success they get. Maybe I’m doing it all wrong, but if I am, so’s everyone else.
Don’t be fooled – almost every business owner – especially in their first ‘real’ years (so, I’m not talking after merging established businesses like you see on some of those ‘fast-starters’ lists) struggles, works their asses off and wonders if it’s worth it. The women in my mentoring group – who all run considerably successful businesses, wonder if they’re the only one that is struggling with whatever the current challenge is – cash flow, work-life balance, family, staff stuff, growth, client issues, total overwhelm, etc.
When you run your own business, everything is personal. Every new business win, every staff issue is personal (you’ve taken them on and you have a responsibility for them – at least that’s how I see it). And every piece of work is personal – at least it is for me. I love what I do and I want what I do to contribute meaningfully to my clients’ business.
Yes, my business gives me the freedom to pick and choose the clients I want to work with. But it wasn’t always this way – but I’ve made it so because working with the wrong clients is devastating to your time, your productivity and your soul.
Yes, I get to take a day here and there to see my children swim or perform at school concerts – because I’ve promised myself, I will not miss their important days (and to date in 7 years of school – I’ve only missed 1 – and I’ve forgiven myself for that).
Yes, I’m teaching my girls that you don’t get paid simply for showing up, that a good work ethic never goes astray and that you never have rely on a man to provide for you or stay in a hideously abusive marriage because you’ve no place else to go – like my mother did.
And yes, most days, I dream of taking a month off to lie on a beach, with a cocktail in hand, a fiction book to read and Sven the massage therapist at the end of the deck chair poking at my feet.
But truth be told, I’d be bored after about 5 days and itching to get back to work. And that’s why I run a business.
Feel free to share why you run yours and the lessons you’ve learned below.
According to the latest book by Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception, it’s time to embrace your inner artist as a business owner (or marketing consultant). Why? Because apparently the world has changed and it needs more artists.
“Art is not a gene or a specific talent. Art is an attitude, culturally driven and available to anyone who chooses to adopt it. Art isn’t something sold in a gallery or performed on a stage. Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another….
Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map – these are works of art….that our society embraces and the economy demands.”
And whilst I agree that the world needs more ‘artists’ in every profession, across every nation on earth, the world hasn’t changed. The world has always needed its ‘artists’. Just as the art world would be bereft without Chopin, Beethoven, Callas, Monet – where would the business world be without Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Anita Roddick et al – all of whom were ahead of their time, passionate about their craft and shared it with the world. My favourite marketing artist is Prof Kotler – a veritable marketing god (yes, a god, because he’s been leading the marketing game for about 40 years).
But frankly there have always been people in love with their craft – whether their craft is fashion, architecture, gardening, electrical service, pole dancing, printing, nutrition, or marketing and PR. There’s nothing new about that.
But sometimes as business artists, we need reminding of why we do what we do. It’s to bring something greater than just ourselves to the world. I know when together we ‘crack’ a client’s issue and find the solution – it’s almost as good as creating a child. Then I see that client’s business thrive and I feel like a proud parent.
I was listening to a world renowned musician talking on the radio the other day about some of the challenges he’d faced in his career. He said it took him a long time to realise that performance is a blessing not a test. I was facing my own moment of performance anxiety and needed to hear exactly this.
Instead of focusing on how I might not do as well as I could at a recent workshop – how someone in the audience might know more (there will always be someone who knows more!!), I focussed only on how blessed I was to be in a time and place in my career where I could share what I knew. And, as it turned out, I had a blast of a time – as did the audience and I did indeed feel quite blessed (not a very corporate word I know, but still it’s true).
Embrace your passion for your craft
If you’re in love with what you do, and you’ve played in the corporate space, you, like me, have probably been told that your passion will get in the way (In fact I was told my “weird passion for marketing” was a key reason I didn’t fit into a government space – hmmm!!).
Don’t listen to them – it won’t and it doesn’t. Perfectionism – now that’s a whole different story, but passion – your love of your craft – no, that’s probably one of the best things you bring to the table. It’s what keeps you learning, sharing, forging ahead, taking your clients where they want to go.
I knew this is what I wanted to do, before I’d even knew marketing was what it was called. I knew I wanted to build the business of my clients’ businesses up at age 15. So as a marketing communications professional – am I an artist? Well, I’ve been practicing for a long time. And I’ve been up front in saying that one day I’d love to be considered the Stradivarius of marketing communications. Is that a big call – hell yes! Am I there yet? Nope – not a chance. But I’m working at it every single day. And until I get there, I’ll keep practicing my marketing craft.
A big thank you to all our fantastic clients who let us practice, refine and hone our marketing craft working on their businesses.
So many people think that their brand is their logo and hence their brand reputation relies on it. And yes, they’re right – that’s part of it – but it’s just a part and a very small part at that.
Your brand reputation is also made up of;
- your products and services – the spread you offer, how good your products/services are, how long your deliverables last, if they live up to customer expectation
- the experience your customers have when dealing with you or your staff whether that’s in store, on the phone, online, in print
- the experience that other people ‘hear about’ in terms of what you’re like as a business to deal with
- what’s going on in the industry, media, regulatory circles that might affect you or your customers
- how the business owners respond to any issues or crisis
- any touchpoint (website, business card, blog, social media posts, billboard, sales presentation, networking approach, brochure, you or your staff personally – what you/they wear, drive, etc) your customers come into contact with and form perceptions about.
In other words, your brand’s reputation is made up of anything and everything a customer or their gatekeepers know, see or feel about your brand.
And let’s face it, some of things on that list – you just can’t control. Sometimes damage can occur with a rumour getting out of control or experiencing plain bad luck. Sometimes, you might even be dealing with larger things like industry issues, demographic/economic issues or government regulation.
So what does that mean for you as a business owner?
In a nutshell, control the things around your brand reputation that you can control – especially the easy things like anything to do with your customer touchpoints – like your website, brochures, sales pitches, office interiors, branding, key messages, etc.
Make sure everything to do with your business is customer centric and your branding efforts are as consistent and as well produced as possible. Why? Because everything you do communicates – good, bad or inconsistent – it’s all part of your brand reputation. And if it’s inconsistent, your customers sense at a very deep level, that all isn’t quite as it should be and even if they can’t explain why, they’ll often look elsewhere – somewhere that ‘feels’ more ‘right’.
One of the things that almost all business owners are guilty of at some point is straying from their key messages – usually because they’re bored with them. Back when I was repping (a thousand years ago), my sales manager would say, “never deviate. Just because you’re bored with the message doesn’t mean the customer is.” Wise words indeed. Research tells us that it often takes 5-13 times for the message to sink in with the customer. And if you keep changing it, at best all you’re doing is tarnishing your reputation by confusing the customer. At worst, you’re making them feel uncomfortable – and uncomfortable customers will seek comfort elsewhere. And let’s face it, that’s not great for your reputation either.
If we can help you build or boost your brand reputation with your clients and customers, we’d be delighted to talk to you. You can drop us a line here.
I’m just reading through Hubspot’s 2013 marketing predictions. I got to number two – Inbound marketing to business grows enterprise wide and had to write this. This is NOT a prediction. It is something that smart business owners and good marketers have known for an incredibly long time. Let me explain.
According to the prediction – marketing will no longer sustain its own department. Um, yes it will – someone (call it marketing, communications, PR, sales) has to do a lot of the work, ensure that the messaging is correct and consistent and have a plan in place to keep the effort going, which is key to the success of all marketing efforts.
BUT they are right in that good marketing is organisation wide. Ie: it doesn’t matter what the folks in marketing or sales do or how good your website or systems are, if;
- anyone in the service or customer support chain doesn’t care about the customer or is having a bad day or
- the shopfront or office ‘feel’ is off or
- the product or service doesn’t live up to expectation or
- the after service support either doesn’t exist or is painful for the customer (or someone else in the chain if you’re a manufacturer).
If your customer is experiencing either pain or even just a disconnect anywhere in your touchpoint process, very likely there are choppy waters ahead (and there’s a solid prediction for you).
Hubspot say this prediction is being driven by the customer being in control. Nope that’s not right either. The customer shouldn’t control your business (it is after all YOUR business) – BUT they should be at the very heart of all things that you do. And smart marketing people and business owners have known that for a very long time too.
To be fabulously successful (whatever that means to you), your business needs to revolve around WIIFM or the 5 most important words in the English language – What’s in it for me? from your customers’ perspectives – through every step of a customer’s interaction with you (from materials, websites, forms, reception, sales, media stories, product/services, customer service, after-care). If it does, you can pat yourself on the back for apparently ‘being ahead of your time’. If you’ve been doing it for a decade or longer – no doubt you’re running a spectacularly successful business.
It is however, harder to get WIIFM right than it might seem on the surface. Lots of clients have told us that they find it hard to get out of their own way enough to see what dealing with the business is like from a customer perspective. And let’s face it, when you’re writing materials, designing your interior or talking about your wonderful product or service, you want to spending time on your favourite subject – you (and that’s okay by the way – everyone does, but it’s not what your customers/clients need to feel/see/experience).
That’s where an external marketing agency can help – they’ll be able to see things you might not and/or that you might have been willfully blind to in the past. You might also consider going down the path of using a mystery shopper service too (especially if you’re a volume business like travel, tourism, childcare, gyms, retail or healthcare). Both bring different strengths to the table and both can highlight places where you might be losing new sales or losing longer-term customers. And getting and keeping customers makes for stronger businesses.
So if you’re looking for better 2013 marketing predictions for your business or you’d like to answer WIIFM better or your business needs a customer-focussed marketing makeover, we’d be delighted to talk to you. Feel free to get in contact or join us on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter.
Today I’m speaking at Sydney Business Month on blogging and d’oh – I realised I hadn’t blogged in while. Or rather let me clarify – I haven’t written my own blog for a while. I’ve written blogs on GST, the cloud, accounting, starting businesses, closing businesses, seniors in business and women in business – all of which were done for clients. Anyhoo back to my own less than stellar blogging attempts, why anyone would bother doing it and “what is a blog?”
Given you’re probably every bit as busy as me – why would you take precious time out of your week to blog? There are several reasons;
- It does drive new business. Hubspot research showed nearly 60% of all businesses that blog saw it contribute to new business coming through their door.
- GOOGLE!! Blogging drives your position on Google. Okay – less than video, but let’s face it, it’s most likely quicker to knock up a blog than it is to put a decent video together
- Blogging builds opportunities for you and your business. Those opportunities might turn up in the form of new business – but they can also turn up, just as importantly, in the form of alliances, partnerships and relationships.
- Writing a blog for your business allows you to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry
- You can bask in the warm glow from contributing to the wider online community – you never know who you might help
- It can save you time answering those pesky questions that keep cropping up – you can point people to your blog instead
Best of all it allows for people – ie: your potential customers or those considering building relationships with you to get to know you before they pick up the telephone or put their fingers to the keys to send you an email. Many prospects will require several interactions with you before they purchase. In fact if you’re selling something that’s a little more complex than say lipstick or chips, prospects may require up to 10-12 interactions with you before they feel comfortable enough to do business with you.
Blogging and sharing on social media – as part of your integrated marketing activities, will cover off a couple of those interactions – or touchpoints. Having a great website also contributes.
If it’s at all possible, have your blog on your website. Why? Because you want visitors to click about a bit to see what else you do whilst they’re there. Google analytics (a requirement if you’re using your blog for business) tells me that every time I write a blog I get a spike in traffic. And most people have a squizzie at at least 2 other pages whilst they’re here. Especially if I direct them using links like this (which goes to my marketing makeovers for small business page).
It doesn’t really matter what you do for a living or what type of business you run – blogging will drive traffic once you do it consistently. And that’s the key. Set aside an hr every week or every fortnight and, as Nike says, JUST DO IT! After you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ll find you discover your ‘voice’ and it gets easier – the writing, not the setting aside time! At some point you’ll look back and you’ll have built a veritable repertoire of (mostly) useful content.
For other tips on blogging you might like to read this earlier blog on 11 tips to getting started with blogging – which is more of a how to and rules of type blog.
If you’d like to forgo the pain of the flashing cursor and no ideas of what to write about, you might like to get a fresh blog topic delivered daily to your inbox – drop me a note. Or you can join me on Facebook or LinkedIn (look right – and click on the buttons) where I share lots of great content about marketing, building business and using social media for client engagement. Do mention my blog though, otherwise I might think you’re a random (read: scary) stranger.
I love my clients – said it before and I’ll say it again. I love my clients – each and every one of them. They’re all quite different as people and sure each of them has their quirks (I love that by the way), but they’re all people I would choose to have a drink and chat with out of hours. All of them make me laugh – not at them, but with them. Some of them, I swear should be in the comedy business – they’re that cool.
The weird thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say that ever before in my 20-ish years of consulting. Oh, sure – I’ve adored some of my clients along the way, but others – well, let’s just say there were pre-set budgets and targets to be met all in the name of being part of someone else’s business and keeping a job. I couldn’t say “actually this client is wrong for the business.” I think I tried that once and got told to “suck it up”. Every time I had that beacon go off – there was pain. It usually involved being beaten up by the client for work would never live up to the expectations of the client no matter how good it was, getting stuck in someone’s internal political mess, not being paid or just work that felt like trying to swim through a vat of molasses. In short – not fun experiences.
Truth be told every business owner, particularly those in service businesses, will face the prospect of being hired by the ‘wrong’ client. Now my wrong client might be your dream client – it’s a completely personal decision. And when you’re just starting out, sometimes you might be more about the revenue through the door than whether it’s right for you or not – and that’s understandable. But once you’ve got some revenue flowing through the business, getting the right customer fit is important.
Hire the right customers and going to work each day will still be a joy – even if the work itself is challenging. However, hire the wrong customer and they can destroy you, your sanity and your business.
So how do you build a business of totally awesome clients? Here are 6 tips;
1. Only take on clients (or work) you really like/respect and work you believe in – the client and the work will inspire you to bring your A game and you’ll have a great time along the way
2. If you can, only take work that’s referred to you. That tends to weed out the total nutters and those that won’t pay. Don’t forget to thank the person who referred you!
3. If people call you on the phone, haven’t done any due diligence and talk about price on that call – that’s a fairly good indication that they’re not after you per se, they’re after anyone who’ll do the work for as little as possible. And they’ll continue to screw you for more along the way. If this happens – suggest they’d be better suited being serviced by someone else.
4. Be vigilant about staying true to your rules. I had a narrow escape the other day because the work was fabulous, gritty and challenging, but the client was known for being abrasive. So when it went another way due to budget constraints, I thanked my lucky stars and got annoyed at myself for wasting their and my own time – and yes, this prospect, despite being referred, hadn’t done due diligence and asked about price on that first call. Worse still, I got sucked into that conversation. Note to self: Don’t do that again!!!!
5. Before you meet with the client or even phone them back to talk turkey or set up meeting, do your due diligence – check them out on LinkedIn, Facebook, call someone who knows them and see what they’re like, check their website and Google them. See what comes up. After all, do you really want to work with an axe murderer that got off on a technicality?
6. Finally, ask yourself if you really like what you see. Could you make a difference in their business (or life) doing whatever it is you do. Is their work in a part of your business you’d like to do more of? Will you be happy and comfortable talking to them every other day? Is their business interesting, challenging, lovely or whatever it is that makes you jump out of bed in the mornings? If the answer’s yes, accept that client with open arms. If it’s a no – politely decline and help them in the direction of someone else for whom they might be a better fit.
When I mentor junior industry folk, I’ve been known to say to them when they’re considering changes of job (especially the ones where they’ve got nagging concerns but the money is fabulous), “never sell your soul – they can never pay you enough”. The same is true of business. We’ve all heard stories about or experienced ‘those’ bosses/employers (and in some cases that’s why we started a business). But guess what, those people also employ other businesses.
If, after everything suggested above, if you’re still in doubt, go with your gut – it never lies. Best of luck with it. Feel free to connect via social media, leave a comment about your experiences or drop me a note.