I am approached frequently by people who are pursuing the "dream" of self employment. The vision they have is of being in control of their destiny. No politics to play, no rules to follow…. then reality sets in. Starting a business is HARD! It’s even harder when you don’t play well with others.
I was recently contacted by a mental health professional who is in hot pursuit of launching his own "American Dream". A highly educated man (as indicated by the alphabet soup following his name), he attempted to contact me first by phone unsuccessfully. (I didn’t get a voice mail so I assume he left a message on someone else’s machine.) Wisely, he followed up the phone call with an email. The email contained two image files and a deadline, but no other details about the proposed project.
I declined the project and suggested that, if my assumptions about the project were correct, I could recommend someone who could deliver exceptional results. The response was along the lines of "get it to me quickly. I need to make a decision!"
Excuse me? Help me and be quick about it? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since the first email was basically a "Take a guess on what the specs are for this project and quote it."
My mother used to tell me "You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." The same principle works when dealing with small business owners and freelance service providers.
One of the main reasons most of us fled the world of W-2 forms and group health coverage is because we were fed up dealing with bosses who imposed ridiculous deadlines upon us and treated us as if we were cattle…. easily slaughtered and easily replaced. When clients approach with the same demeanor, those of us who have achieved self-sufficiency in our businesses tend to run from such a proposition.
Just like many business owners, not only do I offer my services for hire, but I also hire support staff. Unfortunately, this is a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way myself.
It’s only been within the past few years that I’ve been able to retain the services of my support staff. I used to be a horrible boss. I say that because I had really BAD experiences trying to hire support staff during my first few years in business. It’s only now that I can look back and see that I was expecting my vinegar spouting ways to attract and retain a highly skilled support staff. Since those providers were freelance providers as well, they dumped me for sweeter clients.
For a long time, I thought it was just that the world was populated by idiots. Now I realize, I was the Queen Idiot! I’m just grateful that as I look around now, I see that things are different. I must have changed because I have some INCREDIBLE support staff in place…. and am working with some really amazing clients. I suspect it has something to do with changing from vinegar to honey in my diet!