As a business owner/entrepreneur/self employed person, you don’t need to read this whole blog post to know what keeps the lights on and bills paid. (Spoiler alert: It’s your customers.) And yes, it is in fact, very important to take good care of your customers so that you can build a relationship with them for a long time and they stay your customers.
But in the daily bustle of running a business, there is one client whom you must absolutely make sure you take care of, because they are very important. In fact, they are the MOST important.
That customer is YOU.
Listen, I get it. It is super easy to get caught up in the daily activities of working in your business. There are customers to take care of, orders to fill, phone calls to return, and so on. Sure, you have ideas of what and how you may want to advertise or market a service or product, but..you’ll get to it eventually. Or, maybe you have issues in the business that you are know are not running efficiently…but you do not have the time to fix them right now either…so you’ll get to those eventually too.
If you think about this, it does make some kind of sense. Most people are in business to make money, and you make money from client based tasks and projects. It is very much that classic story about the cobbler who’s children have no shoes, or the hairdresser whose own hair looks like tumbleweed.
When you work for yourself, the last person you have time to work for IS yourself. Right?
I thought this too, for a very long time – all the while wondering why I wasn’t seeing as much new business come in, or why I wasn’t growing…or why I was working more and making around the same amount of money (or sometimes even…gulp…less). Then I got caught with my hands NOT in the cookie jar. They weren’t even in the kitchen. And it completely changed the way I saw the issue of “not having time” for my personal business projects.
A while ago, I decided I needed a massive redesign of my website, which I had up for quite a few years without a refresh. It wasn’t because what I had was great and needed no improvements – I knew it needed MANY. But…well…I think you have an idea on where I’m going with this. I was so busy working on projects for clients that I kept pushing my own brand back further on my list.
This project took me well over 6 months to complete, when it really should not have taken more than a weekend. And it probably would have taken longer still had it not been for an email that I received from a prospect one day which really opened my eyes about how much I was not exactly practicing what I was preaching about business.
In a routine scan of my inbox which houses all of the “general delivery” email messages my website receives, I found a message from a guy who was looking to do a project which sounded interesting. I replied, and we set up a time to talk the next morning. We had a very pleasant conversation and we agreed on a scope of work and a price. I was confident that I had it in the bag and started to discuss a deposit and a schedule for a proof.
But then as I was explaining payment terms, he stopped me for a moment. “Hold on…I have just one concern.”
He then proceeded to tell me that he had actually visited my website several months before he had contacted me this time, and he noticed that a lot of stuff was not working. He didn’t reach out to me at the time because his project was not ready to go – he was just gathering quotes. When he WAS ready to go – he visited my website again – only to find that the same stuff that was not working before…still wasn’t. Many of the galleries were not filled and had placeholders instead of real work. No entries on my “coming soon” blog. Some pages didn’t link properly or work at all. The site was, to put it bluntly, a hot mess.
He flat out said “I took a chance in contacting you through your site because what little I did see there, I liked. And in speaking to you, I think we would work well together. But…your image looks kind of unprofessional with an unfinished website. And if your own stuff is unfinished…how can I really trust that you will complete MY work in a timely manner?”
That hit me like an anvil in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. If he had not emailed me to ask about samples or to have a further discussion, he would not have seen more than one or two pieces of my work, or known anything about me. It would have been a complete missed opportunity. Plus…he was just one person who visited and luckily he contacted me anyway but…I had to wonder…how many visited and DID NOT contact me…and instead found someone else…for this very same reason?? Probably at least a few people. Oof.
And look…I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to fix my website. After all, image IS my business and has been for many years. But it’s one thing to know you are not being diligent, and entirely another to have someone put it front and center for you.
By the way, he was a really nice guy – I could tell by his tone of voice that he meant what he said in a constructive manner and not a snarky one. We did end up working together, and have worked on a couple of projects since. When we finished that first project – I thanked him for holding me accountable…which he did a better job of than I had done for myself. (And within less than a week, my NEW website was completed and up and running.)
Whether it’s an unfinished website, or half baked marketing materials – when you are putting the face of your business out there – you HAVE to make sure it looks its’ best. Make the time to work on things that are client facing – in fact, make them a priority. It is a lot more important to how you position yourself as a professional than you think.
If you need help in these areas, give us a call or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes prioritizing means that you have to hand off some tasks to another professional to take care of while you do what you do best. Luckily for you reading this, we have solutions that will let you do just that. 🙂