January 2, 2014
We’ve all done it: taken on that client we knew we should walk away from. But whatever the reason, we took their money, did the work, and regretted every second of it. We constantly felt like we weren’t doing enough, our resources were stretched, and our profit margins eroded to practically nothing.
For many of us, we only did this once. For others, we do it again and again. Why? I think it’s important to dig deep and ask ourselves this important question. However, if you’re faced with a new project or client and your gut is doing a yes-no push and pull, I’ve created a checklist to help you out.
- Their values don’t match your company’s values. If you’re faced with an opportunity to work with a company or a person who embodies everything you stand against, you might want to reconsider taking the job. Are you going to be able to sleep at night? Are you going to feel like you’re selling out? I say it’s best to work with people and companies whose values align with yours to avoid any internal conflicts or employee morale issues that could lead to stress and doubt.
- They treat you like a vendor and not a partner: They’re always late, they cancel, come unprepared, or don’t bother to show up for meetings. These things are signs that they don’t respect you or your time. If they don’t respect you now, they’ll certainly not respect you once they start paying you.
- They don’t appreciate your value. They’re nickel and diming you to death over the contract or sale price or they keep asking for you to throw things in for free. If they don’t understand your value now, they probably never will and you’ll constantly feel like you have to justify your fees.
- The work isn’t really what you do. It’s a great contract worth a lot of money, but it’s not really what you do, so you won’t’ be as effective as when working with the right partner/project. It’ll take extra time and resources to make it work and you and your staff will end up feeling ineffective and frustrated. Do everyone a favor and walk away.
- You’re feeling desperate. Every business owner has been there! The bank account’s looking a little low and the pipeline is pretty empty so you’re willing to take on anything just to get paid! But that nightmare job staring you in the face is not the answer!!! Walk away!!! NOW! This one requires a good honest gut check and a little faith. But trust me, giving up the wrong client and waiting for the right one is always the right thing to do. For one thing, if you’re spinning in circles trying to make the wrong client happy, you’re probably missing out on opportunities with the right prospects!
The bottom line is, like anything else in life, if it just doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! Walk away! If you follow these guidelines, I promise you’ll be happier, your employees will be happier, your good customers who value will be happier, and your profits will soar!
Do you have any other signs that it’s time to walk away? If so, please share them with us!
October 31, 2013
Whether you’re a business owner like me, an independent consultant or you’re responsible for a company’s bottom line – our jobs are really hard. We have a ton of responsibility. We work really long hours – and even when we’re not working, we’re thinking about it. And for those of us who are business owners, on top of all that, we have no security net; no regular pay check, no vacation days, no sick leave, no 401k…. nothing. Yes, it’s really f****ing hard!
And lately, things have been especially difficult. The whole country seems to be in a funk – and who can blame us? With health care reform confusion, government shut-downs and a congress that acts like a bunch of spoiled 4 year olds, who feels secure? No one is spending, and we’re all feeling it.
Despite all this economic and political turmoil, as the entrepreneurial go-getters we are, we tend to blame ourselves when things get tough. And I’m going to share a secret with you – I’m no different. My critical demons sit on my shoulder and taunt: “You’re not doing enough; you need to be selling more, speaking more, writing more, emailing more, networking more…More. More. More”. Honestly, it’s exhausting.
We work extremely hard for every customer and every sale. We know the big wins don’t come every day. In fact, they can be few and far between. So when I got an email this morning from a contact I made last week, that can potentially lead to some business, asking ME when we can meet (instead of me having to chase him down), I took a moment to recognize the victory – and I celebrated. I got up from my chair, voiced a victorious “YES!!!” (Even though only my dog Capone was here to hear it), and I even did a little happy dance. I won! It was small, but it was an accomplishment! This contact saw something in me – and Fortune Marketing Company – that made him want to follow up with me– I didn’t have to chase him down and beg him to meet with me – that’s HUGE! Yet all-too-often we miss these. We take them for granted, we move on too quickly. We forget to stop and recognize it for what it is – an accomplishment – a shimmer of hope amid a sea of let-downs and disappointments!!! A WIN!!!
As small business owners the big wins can be few and far between. We’re not going to land every new contract, nail every presentation, or reach all of our sales goals. So it’s absolutely crucial that we celebrate even the smallest accomplishments. If we don’t get in the practice of recognizing and celebrating the little victories, it’s too easy to get down on ourselves and feel like we’re not accomplishing anything while we’re waiting for that next big win.
So if you need a win – here are 5 things you can celebrate:
- You didn’t give up today. It was hard, but you kept on going! Give yourself a pat on the back!
- You didn’t let a client down today. Despite all your stresses and struggles, your clients are happy! Congratulations on a job well done!
- A new colleague / strategic partner asked to meet with you (because he/she obviously admires and/or respects you). Wow, that’s awesome!
- You did something that took you out of your comfort zone because you knew it would be good for business. Way to go, you brave soldier you!
- You did something kind for someone else today. You’re busy and stressed, but you still took the time to volunteer, make an introduction, or give someone a compliment. You rock! Celebrate it!
What are some of the small victories you celebrate? Please share them with us, so we can all recognize our own accomplishments. After all, being a business owner is F***ing hard and we could all use more reasons to celebrate!
September 5, 2013
You’re a successful business owner by any measure. You’ve been in business more than a few years and at one point you had the business you wanted. You hired a staff, your sales pipeline was full, and the phone was ringing off the hook. Maybe you even felt you had too much to handle at times, but you were excited about expanding.
Marketing didn’t even feel like marketing back then: you joined a few professional organizations and networking groups, bought a yellow pages ad, did some print advertising and the business just flowed. You didn’t need no stinking so-called ‘experts’; you did it all – and were pretty damn good at it too!
But then everything changed. The pipeline was empty and you practically had to beg, borrow, and steal to get work.
Marketing was easy when there was an abundance of work for well established companies with great reputations for quality and service like yours. But then, almost overnight, the game changed.
Not only did money dry up and consumers start spending less, they also became more educated; savvier. While the economy took a dive, technology –especially social media – started to take on a life of its own. Consumers realized that they have choices. They began arming themselves with the power of knowledge – creating online communities, business reviews, and forums.
Consumers started using their voices. Maybe it came out of the frustration and helplessness of government bailouts and unfair tax breaks for the giants – but we all heard it. They banded together and demanded more and we small business owners didn’t know how to react. Traditional marketing had changed and left us asking ourselves:
- What do you mean no one reads the newspaper anymore?
- But.. but… I always had a yellow pages ad!
- Why isn’t a 10% of coupon enough?
- What the heck do you want from me???
Denial is Not a River in Egypt!
Wrapped in our old tattered binky of denial, many of us clung on for dear life trying to survive in the new economy, and instead of turning to experts we:
- Asked for marketing and business advice from our hair dresser, our son’s baseball coach, and our dentist.
- Relied on the people who sell us marketing tools (advertising, yellow pages ads, etc) for our business’s strategic direction.
- And, eventually, many of us just gave up and quit marketing all together.
And then we realized, in a flash of blinding inspiration, “My customers got smarter and started relying on each other with all their Yelping and there Twittering and their Face Booking… Hmmm. Maybe I should re-think my ‘bury-my-head-in-the-sand strategy and get some real help!”
As an entrepreneur, it is really hard to ask for help: we should be able to do it all ourselves, right?
As an entrepreneur, we have certain strengths; one of them needs to be knowing when it’s time to ask for help! No company got big, no business owner became a millionaire by doing it all on their own. Successful businesses get help – lots of it! Even Bill Gates had Paul Allen!!! You simply can NOT do it alone!
I am an Entrepreneur, Hear me ROAR!
Asking for help is NOT a weakness; it’s a sign of strength. STOP doing the things you aren’t good at or trained to do and hire people who are! Hire the accountant and STOP wasting hours trying to figure out QuickBooks. Hire that office manager and STOP getting caught up in the day-to-day operations of your business. And of course, hire a Marketing Consultant and STOP guessing and wasting money on stuff that doesn’t work. Hire Pros to guide your business in the direction you want it to go! It’s time, you know it is!
So where are you in your business? Have you hired experts and if so, what has your experience been? How has the decision impacted your business? And if you haven’t yet, what’s holding you back? Please share your experiences with us!
And by the way, if you decide to hire a Marketing Consultant, we happen to know one!
By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you.