With the New Year upon us, we are all reflecting on our past and how we can improve our future. In the early days of our business, we took any client or customer we could get. We had to stay in business. It’s humbling and sometimes we had to put up with a fair measure of abuse. Clients, after all, are human with all the strengths and weaknesses that go along with that. They are in a position of power and they know it.
Good clients realize that treating their vendors (you) with respect will result in you doing an even better job for them because your are more concerned about their needs. They understand that developing a genuinely positive and friendly relationship will pay dividends over the years. Some clients, however, may use their position of power to further their own agenda which may not have anything to do with business or getting the job at hand done. Every salesperson knows this.
As an entrepreneur, you are in sales, no question about it. So the question is, how long do you put up with guff before you fire an abusive client? Well, certainly not in the first few years if you depend on their fees or purchases to stay in business. But eventually you will achieve a positive cash flow and have the luxury of choosing what clients you want to do business with.
Sure, it takes a lot of courage to fire a client. It seems counter-intuitive and counter-productive, but look at it this way: You can do a much better job for your remaining clients when you are working under less emotional stress. Removing fear and negativity from your mind share will do wonders for your ability to perform.
Michael’s father once told him when he was a young boy complaining about a schoolmate, “You are like a space station orbiting the earth. You only have 3 or 4 ports where visiting space ships can dock. When all the ports taken, no new ships can get in. First, you have to open up a port.”
Bonnie’s mother, a Rosie-the-Riveter type from World War II, lived with us for 7 years and supplied us with salt-of-the-earth wisdom and common-sense insights. She used to tell us that seasonal pruning makes the trees grow stronger and produce more fruit. This basic gardening philosophy, along with Michael’s father’s advice, can be applied to your company as well.
As the year comes to a close, take a good look at what clients you love to work with and those that give you that pain in the pit of your stomach. Are you still at that desperate stage where you can’t afford to let them go? Or are you now in a position to take a chance on filling that vacancy with a new client who may be more rewarding to work with? If you are, maybe it’s time to prune. You may just open up the opportunity for the right client that you now have time for. You may find that when unhampered by negative emotions, you can give your company and all your clients your very best.
You have a life too. And your work takes up a major chunk of it. If you’re anything like us, you work hard because you sincerely want the best for your clients. Why not pare down to the clients who really appreciate your efforts and encourage you to be your best? Why not open up a port for the ideal client to dock at your space station?
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
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