Business Success In A Down Economy – To Thine Own Self Be True
Over the years, I’ve had stretches of success mingled with stretches of difficulty. While my life is far from perfect, this past year, in the midst of what most would consider a devastating economy, I’ve been blessed with phenomenal success that’s been more consistent than ever. One of the patterns that I’ve seen from this is the more I honor who I am and what my company does best, the more successful we are.
Wait – if you are about to put this away thinking it’s some kind of fruity new-age blah blah, it’s really not. It’s a philosophy employed by the most successful people in the world. And it’s not any MLM or get rich quick concept either… It’s the real deal in business.
So how is it that now, in this economy, I get more clients, achieve more goals and enjoy a happier life? One factor is recognizing / knowing what I am meant to be doing / what my company is really best suited to do.
The more I understand and accept that I and my company can’t / shouldn’t be all things to all people in all situations, the more I am willing to both rely on collaboration with others, and the more I am unwilling to compromise who I am or what my company’s best strengths are.
FEAR BASED CHOICES
Over the years, there have been many times when business was slow, for whatever reason (sometimes all the marketing in the world isn’t necessarily enough, sometimes the economy has tanked), I would often take on clients primarily because of the fear of not having enough cash flow to operate.
We’d do work that we are competent at, yet a lot of that would be work that we are “just” competent at, not work that we are superior to the competition at. And even when it was work that we shine in, trouble would still ensue due to that client’s needy nature or panic based participation.
Setting The Stage For Problems
The first problem this causes is that many of those clients end up being one or more of the following:
- Overly needy
- Drama queen types
- Disrespectful of our value
As a caveat I will say that because I’m human, and have been around for a number of decades, I’ve had my own moments where each of these has come out – so at the very least, I can understand some of the possible causes of these behaviors. Personally though, I’ve also learned that business needs to be business, not personal, at least to the degree of my not acting like one of these:
The Overly needy Client
Some people get into business and get over their head. Others start out great but due to whatever circumstance, reach a point where they’re on the fast track to collapse. In either situation, some people panic and as a result, will become overly needy – it’s a human condition yet it most definitely seeps into their way of doing business. Typical examples include calling sixteen times a day, or sending dozens of requests by email in a single day.
The Drama queen Client
Some people when they are facing a crisis (in business or otherwise) will become at least partially blinded by their own worries or fears that they assume the worst case scenario has become real, or they leap to conclusions of doom at the drop of a hat. Examples of this are – assuming minor delays mean the project is at a dead end, or that unanticipated 3rd party factors mean unavoidable catastrophe
The Unappreciative Client
If I compromise my company’s rates, or go way beyond the project scope because I feel sorry for someone, the usual outcome is that consciously or subconsciously, some of these will turn into business Divas. “What do you mean you’re charging me for our phone calls” (uh – because you’ve kept me on the phone for two hours a day for the past week even though I provided all the information you asked for in the email I sent twice). Or “How could it possibly take fifty hours to get my two page web site onto the first page of Google for sixty five phrases? – Just this morning another company sent me an email saying they could put my site on Google for $1 a year…”)
THE DISRUPTIVE RESULT
Taking on such work compromises my own space in the business world and thus inner chaos ensues. (Get flooded with enough instances from the above list, and eventually it throws off your focus – becomes a gnawing distraction and otherwise disrupts the rest of your work day). Or worse – if an employee gets put in the middle, and if that employee wants to try and do the right thing, the client will more often than not take advantage of that employee. And the next thing you know, the project scope has been blown right out of the water.
TO THINE OWN SELF (BEST SKILLS) BE TRUE
So what’s the answer? The more I refuse to take on clients based on fear, the more I trust that there is enough business available from clients who aren’t in one of the above categories, and where the work we do take on is more in alignment.
Even in this economy (see my “Perspective on the current economy” on my personal blog), as long as I stay true to my beliefs, and our strengths, the more we get to do what we are best at (and thus we enjoy our work more), the less we expend countless hours trying to help save the world one needy client at a time, and projects are completed in a much smoother fashion in less time. So we’re available to take on more clients.
THE CLIENT EVANGELIST RIPPLE EFFECT
Because we only now take on clients who really appreciate and value our work (before hiring us, during the project and long after)- that kind of client will inevitably become our next evangelist. What more could you ask for as an outcome than that? They end up referring others who are of the same ilk, and we get more business.
THE GIVE-BACK BONUS
The more I stay away from “trouble” clients, regardless of the reason, the more free I am to take on non-profit clients of MY choosing at a major discount or even pro bono. And they become evangelists for us as well.
So the cut-to-the-chase philosophy is if I refuse to make fear based choices, my business is much healthier for it, and I am as well.