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3 Tips on How to Avoid that Disastrous Customer

 

I just turned down an opportunity to work on a start-up project. The project’s creator thinks the idea is brilliant and it’s going to bring me a ton of business. Yes the idea is great, however the model and the plan for getting it off the ground goes against the very core of what I practice and coach. Yet, I still considered it –  for a minute (ok,, maybe a few minutes…). 

I bet you’ve been there too. 

I’ve seen it over and over again throughout my career with tiny solopreneurships  and larger multi- million dollar  companies:  a prospect comes along with either deep pockets or the promise of more future business and we bend over backwards to try to make our business model fit their needs. And time and time again I’ve seen these jobs completely fall apart. It’s a bad fit from Day One and the relationship is doomed from Day One: nothing works as it should, mistakes abound, resources are stretched and margins dismal.  We’ve all been there.

  3 Signs You Should Say “No”:

 1.       It goes against your business model. Your  business model “describes the rationale of how your company creates, delivers and captures value.  This model captures the core of your business, including purpose, offerings, strategies, infrastructure, organizational structures, trading practices, and operational processes and policies” (definition from Wikipedia). If a prospect comes along with a project or job that compromises any of these things; run in the opposite direction.

 2.       It’s outside your core area of expertise. You do one thing better than anything else – whether it’s delivering a product, service, or a combination of the two. You market it, promote it and talk about it wherever you go. But it never fails; someone will always come along and ask you to do something outside your area of expertise because to them, it all looks like the same type of work. “Well if you can fix my plumbing you can fix my electrical too – it’s still a part of my house”. Think of it this way:  Would you ask a Baseball Coach to Coach a Football team? Of course you wouldn’t so why would you try to do something you are not absolutely 100% professionally skilled and qualified to do? It’s a recipe for disaster. Don’t do it.

 3.       You don’t feel right about it. Bottom line; trust your gut. If the idea of working with this new client is keeping  you up at night or gnawing away at you, there’s a reason. Walk away.

As business owners – especially during these tough economic times – we can be tempted to take any job that comes our way. But the fact is we serve one niche, or deliver one product, service or a combination of the two better than any other.  In order to serve our customers, our company and ourselves best we need to stay true to that.  Keep this in mind: never compromise and your business, your brand, and your reputation will be stronger for it.

What do you think?! Please click here to leave your comments. (And then scroll down to the comments section on the bottom of the page)

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2 Responses

  1. “Think of it this way: Would you ask a Baseball Coach to Coach a Football team?” – What a great analogy! It might help people – clients and their service providers alike – understand clearly why the urge to go above and beyond might not actually be the best idea!

    1. Carolyn

      Fiona-

      I actually struggled with this concept a bit as I wrote this blog. We read so much about giving the customer what they want – and yes, going above and beyond. And I certainly believe that these statements are true- IF we stay within our target market and our core competencies. We aren’t doing anyone any favors when we try to be something we’re not.

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you got my point. 🙂

      -Carolyn

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