In Business, Relationships Only Work if They Are Two Way
Don’t let a bad client or team relationship derail you from your ultimate goals in life.
When I planned to start No Limit Media Consulting (now No Limit Agency) in 2008, I did so with a Jerry McGuire type mentality – you know, an aha moment where you pick up the fishbowl and shout “WHO’S WITH ME.” I also did so with the idea that a hug was stronger than a handshake – and a plan to blur what is typically reserved as black and white in business and relationships.
Truthfully, I was a little naive.
A business advisor told me that it was impossible to have friendships with clients. I dismissed her as being cynical.
While she wasn’t completely correct in her statement, 10 years later, I understand it more. Frankly, that understanding is slightly disappointing, but not completely discouraging.
2018 taught me a lot about business transactions – with both members of a team and with client relationships. Those lessons went against my vision, but like any entrepreneur, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
First, with a team. As a business owner, there are a few things I learned:
It is the job of the CEO/visionary to create the vision. If you are not clear in this process, your team won’t clearly understand what they are fighting for. If they don’t know what they are fighting for, it’s really hard to fight.
You have to understand that people are not you. When you don’t, I feel you get a case of founder syndrome.
Trust is a really tough thing because it is situational – meaning, you may completely trust someone but if they don’t have integrity, that trust can only go so far. Trust is also owned by both sides and if it’s not equal and the balance is off, a true relationship is tough to come by.
I also founded the company with a clear vision for creating an awesome culture. Admittedly, I allowed cancerous behaviors to disrupt part of the culture over the years. I listened to too many people and tried to please too many people. Protect the house and the house will protect you.
In life, however, if you don’t become cynical and remain optimistic that you are on a pathway to create something awesome, then, even when you are dealing with business transactions, they can still be valuable to that moment.
There were also lessons (hard lessons) learned from client relationships:
You are only as good as your last deal – thus, if you don’t evolve the relationship with a client it won’t become innovative and forward moving. You must challenge the process over and over again in order to constantly surprise the client with premium service, relationship, strategy and results.
Throughout the history of our company, we have lost some accounts that surprised me because we went above and beyond any possible scope on a mission to help that brand win. There are two ways to look at this process. First, you could say on a go-forward you are going to charge the client more and restrict the scope. Second, you could say screw it, there will always be bad clients, let them bounce and focus on creating a superior service for the clients that commit to you. It is very challenging to rebound mentally from a perceived relationship when it was simply a business transaction.
I completely understand why people who have been through a lot of career changes say that relationships and business are black and white – but that doesn’t mean I agree that it has to be that way.
There is a lot of short-term memory loss in relationships – this is why there is a need to constantly remind clients what you have accomplished. There is equal value in the delivery of information after you do something amazing.
At the end of the day, my ultimate advice is to do you. If you believe in a way of being awesome – then do it. Don’t let a bad client or team relationship derail you from your ultimate goals in life. I promise you that there will be bumps and bad moments. Recovery is ultimately up to you.