No one is perfect, and we can all improve upon ourselves to become better businesspeople. I really liked this article by Brad Lebo, one of the principals at Vital Growth.
He lists some challenges that each and every one of us can focus on and conquer in order to be better freelancers. These aren’t all of his tips, but the ones most suited to your needs. Read the entire blog post here.
1. Understand Your Values
Values influence every decision you make and the resulting actions. What you believe is important or valuable will determine how you interact with peers, employees, and customers, as well as determine how you react to lapses in effort, integrity and judgment. —Brad Lebo
Knowing what your values are will help you make decisions. Things pop up all the time that will make you pause and think—a client who wants something you don’t usually offer, for example. Have some firm guidelines set for yourself that you can fall back on. If not, you can hem and haw and make decisions you aren’t comfortable with. And when you lean one way for one person, what will keep you from doing it again for someone else.
I edit a yearly wedding publication that has a very specific niche. We only publish photos from wedding photographers who are located in our state. I have lots of photographers who come to our state to take photos of weddings and want their images to appear in our publication. I don’t budge. There are plenty of other magazines out there for these people. If I make an exception for one person, I have to do it for all of them, and I’m not going to open those floodgates.
Your values can also bolster your reputation. Sure, some people who don’t have the same values might not want to work with you, but there are plenty other people out there who will. And aren’t those the clients you want anyway?
2. Communicate Clearly
Lebo says to communicate clearly, you need to do the following: be consistent, get a hold of your fears, and be selfless.
You can be consistent by communicating continuously with your clients. Check in with them and give them a progress report. Don’t wait for them to pick up the phone—you do it. Conquer your fear of saying something that causes a reaction in someone else. If you need to say something, but are afraid it is going to cause someone to storm out of the room angry, you won’t say it. Don’t be afraid of keeping people accountable. Heck, your clients are looking to keep you accountable, so do the same.
When Lebo talks about being selfless, what he means is to change your point of view.
Let’s face it, everyone listens a little better and sometimes a lot better if their own interests are attended to. Think of the contrast between hearing, “If we reach our goal this year, I’ll be able to get that boat I’ve always wanted,” and “If we reach our goal this year, every one of you who contributes to our success will get a bonus.” —Brad Lebo
3. Confront Problem Behavior
When one of my students or freelancers does or says something that bothers me, I take them aside (or call them on the phone) to let them know. I don’t like to harbor resentment and I like a clear conscience. Maybe that person is having a bad day and it has nothing to do with you, or maybe it has everything to do with you.
Instead of battling with your client via email, pick up the phone and call them. I have had too many misunderstandings happen and feelings hurt because someone read an email in a tone that was not intended. Does someone sound upset in an email? Give them a call and get to the bottom of it.
Being a better businessperson takes work, and you frequently have to confront people and do things that you might not be comfortable with. But if you can conquer these challenges, your business relationships will be better off.
Do these tips make sense for your business? Do you have any others to share?