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I hear wedding bells...

Okay, I'm already happily married. but a girl can dream. I have a Tony Robbins addiction. Seriously, it's an addiction. Every morning when I'm feeling down, or stressed and I'm dragging myself to sit in front of the computer I turn this man on. He seems to always know what to say right when I need to hear it.  Yes, of course I watched "I am not your Guru" on Netflix as soon as it was available - and yes I did ugly cry through over 50% of it. You see one of the biggest reasons we fail as entrepreneurs is not because of resources like money or connections. It's not even about bad backend processes or social media. (You probably know several successful companies with a bad social media campaign.)  Yes those contribute but the main reason we fail and normally why those things are wrong in the first place, is because of our "stories". What we tell ourselves about our business.  "Entrepreneurship is so hard." "Money is hard to come by." "Maybe I'm just not good enough." "Maybe this isn't for me" "Why can't I be successful?" "It's too hard" "I can't do this" "I'm alone, and no one even understands." "I can't afford help" "No one wants to help me." "No one cares if I succeed." "I have no support." "Maybe I should just quit." On Monday I was in a meeting with Northwick marketing, and it was amazing. He was showing me things I wasn't even aware were possible. But in the back of my mind I was saying, "I can't afford this, I can barely afford groceries, and he wants $1250 a month." I decided just to listen as hard as I could and gain all of the knowledge I could so maybe one day I could afford this. It felt sleazy and uncomfortable like stealing, but I didn't believe there were any other options. That morning I only had $26 in my business account, and close to the same in my personal checking. That $1250 could have been $12,500,000 the way I was feeling.  I'm sitting in this meeting and it dawns on me, I need this. I can make the $1250 10 times over if I just follow these steps. He's fixing things I never even knew were wrong. I'm a hard sell in marketing because I have done so much research. I was certain that I already knew my limitations and shortcomings. But here this guy was showing me things I hadn't even thought of. At the end of the conversation I was distraught, I needed him, I couldn't do this alone. My clients needed him. Maybe I can save and do this next month I thought. Or next year - no matter what I would do this. Did you catch the shift? The $1250 that was $12,500,000 to me at the beginning of the conversation was now suddenly feasible. I was mentally breaking it down, "That's just 2 $625 payments, I can get $625 twice in a month... maybe in October I'll have it...." At the end of the conversation, he's asking me what I thought, and if was it valuable. I'm rubbing my forehead trying to figure out how to say "Yes this is great, but I'm poor." As I'm beating around the bush, it comes to me - just say it. So I told him, I want this but I cannot afford it. And he says, is that it? I reply yes, and I believe if I hire you I would be able to pay the $1250 easily each month, I'm just not able to do it today. He pauses and says, okay I'll do this for you for $497 for your first 30 days, can you pay that? I'm thinking, "That's amazing, I'm sure I can come up with that in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Maybe he won't mind if I wait to start. Maybe I can use my credit card, there isn't much on it, if he can't wait."So I agree, my mind totally shifted, "I'll just put it on the card, it'll pay for itself." But then I thought, "I really need to keep my business expenses in my business account. I don't want this to be a problem in the future with taxes." I sighed and just said, "It'll work itself out." A few hours later I start getting calls and emails from people wanting to pay for services. At 11:00pm that night I had $463 in my business account. That was God working. That was me having faith, and taking a chance. This is what happens when you shift your thinking. When you believe that things will work out for your good. When you stop listening to the stories we tell ourselves about what won't, can't, shouldn't, wouldn't, couldn't work - and do. Suddenly I'm empowered, I'm updating my website (blogging, lol). I'm taking a new perspective on my accounts, and things are falling into place.  So let go of the lies we tell ourselves. You CAN and WILL do his, you CAN and WILL succeed. I believe in you.    

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FIRING MY FIRST CLIENT. >_<

A Mata Designs Best Month Ever

 

The concept of firing a client is probably foreign for most of you. They pay you, so they are the boss right? Right and wrong. Some clients can be abusive verbally, or excessively disrespectful of your time. When that happens it is sometimes necessary to cut off that relationship. Even though making money is good, being stuck in a toxic relationship is not. If you let it continue until they decide to end the relationship, you will be set up for failure. 

 

I've had my share of bad clients, the ones who never understand that you have other clients, or a family, or a home - they expect to have 24/7 access to you and your service. The ones who pay late, the ones who wait until the last minute to call you. The ones who can't work email. All eye roll worthy, but this guy took the entire cake.

 

I'm an avid believer in the good in others. Sometimes past hurts, or betrayals can cause people to do strange things in the first meeting. I am used to working with Bridezillas back when I worked in hotels, and the common denominator between brides and my current clients is this is something beyond important to them. So when another vendor screws them over, I have to spend the first part of the conversation trying to console, and create a trustworthy environment. 

 

So when we met and he made a few statements about needing to be sure that he would have full ownership and access to his site, I thought maybe he had a past experience where someone vanished and he lost access to his site. I've heard of this happening a lot. Even non-dramatic stories where designers are just retiring and now the client doesn't know how to take care of or update the site. So I'm always prepared with documents, contracts, everything to make them feel safe and okay with me taking care of their site. Because it is a big thing to trust me with, some of it includes private financial information and tax information as well when setting up an ecommerce site, so it is vital that I create a trusting experience. 

 

He also mentioned that he was still shopping and that my pricing was higher than he expected. I'm not a client chaser, I've got a tight schedule and I have other people already asking for websites so I don't mind if they shop. 

 

- If you are desperate for a sale, people can and will take advantage of you. No money is worth your sanity and reputation -

 

When we had our follow up meeting I was prepared to cater to his needs, and go over the contracts and everything line by line to make sure we were clear. He had a 1pm appointment, and called at 12:50 to ask me if we were supposed to meet in person, or on the phone. 

 

Pause, reason #1 that you should fire a client: They disrespect your time.

 

Now being 10-15 minutes late, is not a big deal in my book. Things happen, lost keys, traffic, meetings running long, I understand. However he arrived an hour late without apology or explanation, which is a blatant disrespect of my time. If a client is showing up when they want, calling when they want despite your posted business hours you need to let them go.

 

Would a large corporation take a call outside of business hours? Would they still be available an hour later? An apology is bare minimum, or at least offering to reschedule. His attitude showed me that he expected me just to be available no matter what. That is a big red flag in my book, but old big hearted April still waited and held a meeting with him. For 4 hours.

 

Yes 4 hours, he sat in my office going over a one page contract, and showing him websites I've done, and trying to reassure him of the work I'm doing. 

 

Pause, reason #2 that you should fire a client: You can't get past money.

 

If your client is constantly complaining about your pricing even after they agreed you were worth that cost, that is a red flag. If they keep asking for a discount in promise of more business, comparing you to other businesses doing the same thing, or even asking for free work out of the scope of the contract, run. 

 

Sitting in this meeting 50% of it was him showing me another company's prices. I did not budge on my pricing, but I watched him try to get free work out of me. Suddenly he needed a design for his facebook business page and he wanted me to spruce up his logo and anything he could get for free. A cover image does come with a website purchase so I obliged because he had showed me the cash he was going to pay today. By the end of the meeting he wanted me to turn it into a business card, which I declined and explained that a business card design is a separate fee. He then began to tell me what the other company would have done. I should have ran then. But this twisted idea of what it means to be professional kept me glued to my seat.

 

- Sometimes, "No" is more professional than a forced, "sure" -

 

Reason #3 that you should fire a client: They won't sign a contract.

 

Honestly without that paper, they aren't even a client. After hours of discussing this one page contract he was still refusing to sign it as if something was in it we hadn't gone over and agreed to. I agreed to allow him to take it home review it further and even have a lawyer review it with him if he'd like. 

 

Fast forward to Saturday. Note that him calling on a saturday was reason 1 all over again, because I had even told him I spend the weekends with my family. However it was my mistake in answering his call. He began to ask me when the site would be completed (I haven't received any content for the site. Just $162, not even the full first payment). I let him know it was dependent on him providing the content and then I said, "I can't release the site until I have a signed contract" You would have thought I asked for his first born son. I ended up having a 45 minute argument with him where he accused me of wanting to sell to his clients, and trying to put my name on things. I was beyond livid, and for the first time, I knew that I would have to fire a client.

 

Which brings me to Reason #4: The client is hostile or verbally abusive.

 

At one point he was yelling, "You feeding your family doesn't have $hit to do with me", on the phone and that was the final nail. Well one of several nails. But sometimes it's not the obvious yelling and cursing, it's the subtle conversations that make you uncomfortable. When he asked if me or my son spoke, "Mexican" (which isn't a thing, it's Spanish.) When he kept calling me sister as if to imply that my skin color warranted him a discount of services. I'm an only child, no sisters or brothers here.

 

If they are forcing hugs on you, or making racially based inappropriate comments, you can walk away. These people will hurt your reputation. They will represent your brand when they speak about you in public and the people they repel can consider you to be of similar personality if you're working with them. Know that you deserve to be treated with respect.

 

Do not let the pursuit of money destroy your self worth. 

 

So today I end it all, and save myself and my business from destruction. Remember you have the power to say no, even if you want to sell more, and make more money some clients are not worth it. Trust me, a better more respectful client will replace them.