Let me be blunt: don’t be afraid to tell a prospective client that you’re not a good fit.
Too strong, you say? (Coffee pun, did you catch that?) Well, think again.
I don’t know about you, but my engagements typically last a few weeks and depending on the services I am providing, I could be working with a client for months and even years. Um, sounds like a long term relationship to me.
Just as with long term romantic relationships, you need to do some vetting on your business partners (read: clients). And just like romantic relationships: many of you strangely do not seem much concerned with the insanely important process of vetting. You just dive right in, like a fool in love, all hot with desire (for a paycheck, relax). When it all falls apart and you stand before the judge citing irreconcilable differences, then and only then do you consider having maybe ignored some warning signs. Why should you care? Well, because divorces are expensive.
So, what ever happened to courtship anyway??
I’ve found that sitting down over some coffee for a couple of hours (more than once if need be) is the best way for me to learn about the human being whom I may or may not end up in a relationship for awhile. I want to get to know you. I want to know your origin story. I want to know your hopes and dreams. Your pet peeves. Your fears. And yes, I want to know how you take your coffee.
THIS is the stuff that believe it or not manifest itself in your business, because, your business is merely an extension of you. THIS is the same stuff that I will use to do my best work for you. And THIS is the same stuff that will make or break our relationship because we either are made of the same “stuff” or we are not. In the transcendent words of the incomparable Mark Anthony: “I need to know”. Like, now, not later.
I feel strongly that every paying client is not the right client for me. And perhaps you’d want to consider your level of selectivity going forward as well. While I can’t help you handpick your clientele (I mean, I could for the right price; would that make me a hypocrite?), I can certainly promise you that the cost of the coffee is less than the cost of the divorce.
Stay thirsty my friends.