Today I had scheduled to do some follow-up calls with a few of my long time IT clients. After a few 20-30 minute chats I felt like blogging about it. When I started my IT business back in 1997 I was very interested in making every customer a “customer for life”. It was a simple goal and while it has not been 100% successful I am extremely fortunate that the majority of my current clients have been clients for many years. As a result they really know me and I really know them. I know about the personal and professional challenges they face, the highs and the lows. Really we’ve been through a lot together, we are like a family. I know about their families and they know about mine. When we talk we catch up on personal business, share ideas and support each other. I was also reminded that business is always personal for me. My clients are friends and I enjoy their friendship. In business it is always a delicate balance. Luckily, as my own boss, potential clients and I can choose to work together. In my prior career I did not have the luxury of this. I can tell you among many of the perks of being your own boss, for me the ability to choose who I work with is a huge perk.
Some people may read this and think that I am naive, but there is more to this. I had one client years ago that made me miserable. One of my close friends told me a story that someone had told him some years prior by the founder of a large warehouse store. It was the tale of the golden apples. Basically the saying was as long as the golden apples (money) were falling off the tree not to worry about difficult clients. I’ve used this to console myself over the years and I have to say I am at a point where I no longer agree with this. If your customers values are not in line with yours and it is causing you stress, you will be better off firing them and finding new customers. When I take stock of my customers today, they are all in line with my values. I do not feel that this is an accident. I think that ultimately when your values are out of whack, relationships will be dysfunctional. I think part of my position here has come with age, I am very comfortable today with who I am and I am not afraid to tell someone if they are asking me to do something that I do not feel I can ethically, successfully or efficiently execute. When I was younger I was much less self assured, I was driven and competitive, I guess I was what I needed to be at the time. Today I am glad that my values drive my business and personal relationships. I am open about who I am, what I stand for and genuinely enjoy establishing relationships with people who share my values.
I would love to hear your opinions about this post and your own personal experiences or philosophy on this. I will feature a couple of the best examples that come up in the post.
Occasionally I receive comments on my blog that really impress me and I want to showcase them (and the commenter!) in the post:
“Great post, Joe! This reminds us that usually when people grumble about their jobs and out of their unhappiness, make the transition to become an entrepreneur, one of the reasons they usually cite for their discontent in being an employee is they have issues with the people in their environment, and with the people with whom they have to interact. Unfortunately, once the new business-owner has survived the inevitable period of financial insecurity, they become determined to never experience that again, and this is usually when they make the subconscious pact with themselves to accept all money, no matter from whence it comes. The effect of this ill-advised decision is to create for themselves, all over again, the same kind of environment that they had once dreamed of escaping — a work environment in which they are exposed to troublesome individuals.
This post is a great reminder to business-owners about one of the elements that factored into why they decided to become a business-owner in the first place. Control over their work environment. Thanks for this!” – Kathrina Rashid
Kathrina was a recent guest blogger on my blog, you check out her post entitled “Sexual Assault Awareness by Kathrina Rashid PHD“