Your Business, Your Life, Your Way
The Way We Do Things Around Here
Myth: If you want to be successful in business you must be immediately responsive to client requests, no matter how inconvenient or unreasonable. If you don’t you’ll lose business.
Truth: If you want to build a sustainable business, you have the right to establish guidelines that enable you to respond to reasonable requests in a reasonable time frame. The best clients for your business will understand and respect reasonable guidelines.
When my clients are feeling stressed about the many demands on their time, I encourage them to establish guidelines for “The Way We Do Things Around Here” (TWWDTAH) to remind them that this is their business, and therefore their right/obligation to clarify best practices. TWWDTAH guidelines can cover the following situations:
Pricing, services and packages. What do you offer and how does it work?
Establishing agreements with new clients.
What practices do you want to establish to make that easy for them
What do they need to know before you get started?
Responding to requests by existing customers...what are your guidelines around that? What can they expect? What do you expect?
Establishing working agreements with new clients
Billing, payment and invoicing
Hiring and training new team members
Managing Expectations Starts and Ends With You
Although it seems that putting these practices into play is for prospects and clients, they are really for you. They go a long way towards eliminating the emotional aspects of some critical business decisions; they also enable you to streamline and simplify your most frequently used processes.
Those who succeed report that when they institute such guidelines that their stress levels decrease, the quality of work increases, clients are happier and their business is far more sustainable.
One Woman's Results
A marketing consultant, new in business, realized that if she was going to be successful she must become firmer with clients regarding engagement with her outside of set meeting times. Historically, it had been difficult for her to know what is reasonable. However, motivated by her wish to be successful without compromising her health or time with children, she recognized the importance of slowing down long enough to define her boundaries. We outlined a list of "checks and balances" for 3 different scenarios.
Her biggest fear: Clients would see her as ineffective and unresponsive, and she’d lose business.
The result: When she uses the “checks and balances” she established to guide her responses to new requests she discovered that people are both responsive and accepting. She feels more confident and better able to manage often-changing priorities.