This month we celebrate seven years in business and, whilst there are more long days than I ever imagined there would be, it is definitely one of the best things I’ve done.
Our business started with just two of us and today we have seven members in our team. Bigger isn’t always better and our ethos has always been about staying true to what we believe, doing the work you enjoy and ensuring you always deliver what you promise. We never let people down and I would far rather miss out on a job than take something on knowing we don’t have the capacity to deliver.
People buy people
Only work with people you like. Even if you wouldn't go for a beer with them you need to be able to respect their work ethics. Do they treat their own teams well?
Trust in a good business relationship is imperative. We need to be trusted to give the advice our clients need, otherwise why would they hire us in the first place?
It’s also essential to trust your team to do the work required. Usually they know the answer, it's often just confidence that stops people making decisions.
When it comes to building a successful team you can train anyone to do almost anything but you can’t teach happiness or genuine passion. Never let people down. It's inexcusable in business.
Fun, fame or fortune
So how do you know which clients to invest your limited time on and which to ditch? Over the last seven years I have come to know what relationships to spend time cultivating and which ones to let go.
Yes. Cutting ties with clients that don’t fit with your business is just as beneficial as adding ones that do, or better yet, growing ones that already do.
My client evaluation is as simple as this: Fun, Fame and Fortune.
Fun – Is the client contact and/or the client work fun for you and the people you work with?
Maybe the client is a non-profit or an interesting product or service, or better still maybe your contact is just enjoyable to work with. Never undervalue this. Great relationships are born this way so cultivate it and find a way to use this relationship for Fame and Fortune.
Fame – Is the client or the work able to bring profile and awareness to you or your company?
Perhaps the client is a well-known brand or one willing to spend money on getting some exposure? Use PR, awards, blogs, email, social media and more to shout your client’s good news from the rooftops to bring your own company some well-deserved attention.
Fortune – Is the client or the work able to pay the bill at the end of the month?
Most clients should fall into the Fortune category but working just for the money can be a bit monotonous and will potentially burn you and other talent out over time. Sometimes the key money-generating clients are the least fun, so look for ways which you can make these relationships Fun and then transform for Fame.
Every client MUST bring one of these ‘Fs’ to the table. If not, make it happen or say your goodbyes. Make time to identify which clients bring the right elements to the party and put a plan in place to grow those business relationships. However, if it’s not working out, then breaking up is hard to do but in business I really believe it makes sense to only work with people you respect and who trust you.