I think in Business and Entrepreneurialism in general it is the common zeitgeist for people to run around pretending everything is wonderful and there are never any problems that have to be dealt with. I have seen that myself in my own blog “The Edward Files” (where you may be reading this article) with a base of people attacking me and my content and accusing me of being Negative, Picking on People and all that type of thing.
Overwhelming support has come in though and it’s great and I was very lucky to connect with an intelligent and thoughtful woman by the name of Wendy Norman over LinkedIn. We are both part of the 4Networking Community. In one of her posts / questions through the LinkedIn Group – she was asking how to handle “D-Class” clients.
If you haven’t heard that terminology before – it’s basically, “A, B, C & D”, “Platinum, Gold, Silver and Fools Gold” type of thinking to divide up people you work with. This is quite a big issue in Professional Services as the fit has to be good (but say in Online Products, this isn’t quite as bad – as there isn’t any / limited interaction required there).
It created quite a bit of discussion and one of my colleagues who is a fine Business Coach by the same Selina Tan made some very astute comments on the issue.
Basically poor Wendy was taken advantage of by people who have more than enough money to pay – but just were not for no “Good Reason” leaving one to obviously lean towards the negative in terms of their true darkened motives.
From what I can tell, they are people who are very gutless, unethical and they believe that stealing from Small Business Owners is okay. Wendy basically is in a position where she was seeking advice for her to walk away!
Talking personally, late last year in my business I had some real people do the wrong thing by me and take advantage of me. Not paying, underpaying, being mean, backstabbing me and even a person I once considered a close friend who I gave referrals too – I found out she was trashing me to my clients that was quite mean and upsetting.
I grew up very quickly and it was a great experience and I think all part of the territory and building my own business skill and competence. Now I feel pretty good about it and I have processes in to protect me as much as possible – and also as my great friend and Mentors Greg Hudson & Jim Vass pointed out:
– YOU GET AN EYE FOR IT AND AVOID THE BAD PEOPLE!
Going back to Awesome Wendy and getting to know her through the group in a short space of time, many came in giving great advice on the issue basically agreeing with what I think:
– Give D Class clients a chance to repent and take a shot at turning them around.
– Put in strong terms and get what is owing to you paid.
– Suspend services if you have too.
– Unless you are a start-up with no choice, GET RID OF THEM!
– If you do have some, as you get better awesome clients – move the bad ones on as soon as commercially possible!
A few people came in trying to make out that “Everyone is Nice and all that Tree Hugging Stuff” – but I don’t agree with them at all. The overpopulation of our prisons and the modern day crime-waves suggest that not everyone is as awesome as we are – so you got to be positive, but also carry a sense of street smarts too.
Talking more Small Business Marketing too, it’s not just all “Getting Clients”. A key component is getting the “Right Clients” (like people that will pay you and won’t backstab you) and when these situations come along they are never good for ones psychology or mindset!
My advice? If you are starting out and have some bad “D” clients, you may have to live with it for a short while. But once you can, GET RID OF THEM and only work with people that are as nice, ethical, kind and trustworthy as yourself.
A big lesson of mine lately and a key learning, is that I have spent a great deal of my life under the tyranny of people just taking advantage of me. I just love awesome people like myself and that totally rocks for me!
Thank you for taking the time to read this one and keep up the fine work! Thank you to Wendy too for starting such a great discussion!
Edward Zia – Lover of Small Business Marketing who is Pro-Awesome Clients!