Jump on my shoulders – Business 101
When you run a ‘successful’ business and have developed a reliable, interesting or funky brand people notice. That is good, we call it ‘brand awareness’ and without it your brand may as well be invisible. Customers won’t find you, the bank will fill up with cobwebs and you will feel hungry and tearful. I know this because I’ve been there. However, after a few years of hard work and plenty of mistakes I have a brand and a business that looks like fun. So much fun in fact that some people want a piece of it…..
Before I go on I must state that success is relative. The success that I feel in my business may be a lousy fail for you – I have built my business to fit around family commitments and enjoy an income that is in line with that (i.e: not millions). I work flexibly – sometimes on the weekend or evenings so that I can attend school commitments or finish at 4 to take my children to dance class or art. It is all good but you might not want that….
Not a day goes by when someone wants to have a piece of the action without paying – they don’t come right out and say it but they might e-mail me, phone me, leave a comment or try to book in and see me to get an opinion on something and I don’t mind a bit of that as it is business after all and a cheeky favour here and there keeps relationships going right?
Then there are the people who say ‘I love what you do and I follow your blog/ Facebook page/ twitter/ Pinterest or whatever and would love it if you could follow mine too and share it with your fans?’. There isn’t any harm in that either is there?
And the people who watch in the shadows to see what you are doing so that they can do it bigger, better, faster, stronger, cheaper, leaner, meaner, cleaner. That’s OK isn’t it?
Or the people who decide that your platform is also their platform and ‘why not just pop links to my site on this successful brands website or social media page, people WILL be interested in me’. Of course they will.
Like other brand owners I sometimes find this frustrating (maybe you have mis-understood how I feel), annoying (how many times do I have to tell this person to back off), enraging (OK this behaviour is blatantly rude and now I have to tell them. Confrontation is not something I relish) and saddening (when people don’t see how selfish they are being)
But mostly I find that it is all just part of being in business.
I have learned to deal with all of the above and more through experience. I got to know myself, my business, what I want from my business, what my business offers the world, what type of clients I want, who I can network with and so on and so forth. For everything else I worked on developing boundaries. Boundaries that communicate to others what I will and won’t tolerate, how I do and don’t operate, what I will give for free and at what point I will stop. How much rope I will give people and the point where I get out the scissors and chop that rope down. Knowing the difference between what you can control and what you can’t has saved my relationship with my business on more than one occasion. It is probably the most valuable skill that I have learned in my 6 years of doing this.
Enforcing those boundaries both personally and professionally ensures that every customer interaction is as authentic as you can make it and that you won’t get to the end of the day and feel pent up and stressed – passive aggression is not fair on the clients, deflecting aggression or emotion isn’t fair on yourself or your family.
So, my philosophy?
Sure you can jump on my shoulders but I will be watching and I’ll decide when and how you get off.
And that’s the word.