In the past 6 months, I’ve really evaluated the people in my work life. Being an introvert, I’m always particular about my personal friends, but business contacts and colleagues I always tried to keep everyone happy and be there for everyone. And I’ve got to say, if that’s how you are working your business, STOP RIGHT NOW! You can not and should not be working with and pleasing everybody.
People work really hard to get good reputations. They work hard, do the right things (most of the time), always watch their Ps and Qs (again, most of the time). Lol. But what people don’t consider is that who they associate with on a business level also affects their reputation.
I first encountered this years and years ago when I was working for a rental car company in their management program. I interviewed for a promotion, but what I found out later completely appalled me. The wife of one of the top managers there was my friend and she was told that I was by far the best choice for the position, but the direct manager said no because he hated the manager I was currently working for. So basically, I got hosed because of who I was associated with. Sucks.
Fast forward many years later and I had my own make-up business. Being freelance, you never know when your next paycheck is going to come, so when you first start, you tend to make the erroneous decision to accept every client that comes in because, hey, you gotta pay your electric bill this month. There were quite a few clients that while they were consistent, they definitely did not mesh with the image and reputation I was working to build. They consistently booked me, but also consistently wanted discounts and freebies. They made lots and lots of mistakes that in turn made me look bad. And other work colleagues were absolute liars that put me in the most ridiculous (and heartbreaking) situations.
It wasn’t until I realized that these toxic people needed to be out of my career in order for me to move forward. I will admit, I was scared shitless when I told each of these people that I no longer wished to work with them. I mean, there’s no easy way to say it. With one client, I just told him that my rates had recently changed (I hadn’t raised my rates in 5 years) and that I could no longer provide the discounts he was accustomed to as I felt that I had already proved my worth. He stopped using me, and you know what? I am completely ok with that. I no longer have any last minute stresses of him needing me in 30 minutes only to earn $20. Another client I did the exact same thing to and guess what…he said, “ok” and continues to book me, but at my full rate now. He respects me more now too.
The “mistakes” client I was simply up front with. I told the client that I was no longer available due to the multiple serious communications errors that were not only affecting me, but also the members of my team who work with me loyally due to the respect they have for me. And the liar…it just caused enough atrocities that it was easy to end that one. I just quit that client cold turkey.
Was it difficult to come to these decisions? ABSOLUTELY! Is it awkward when I see these people? ABSOLUTELY! How can it not be. Am I glad that I did this? ABSOLUTELY!
Since siphoning out my bad colleagues and clients, my work has actually grown, and grown A LOT! I’m now working on multiple projects with some amazing people that respect me, trust me, and that actually help my reputation get better and better.
So, if you feel stuck in your work right now, take a look at WHO you are around. Get rid of the un-classy people (in a classy way of course) and see what leaps and bounds your business takes. It will be ridiculously scary saying no to a paycheck, but it is so very much worth it. You work hard for your reputation, don’t let other people ruin it.
And to those clients of mine that I am currently working with…Shirley, Scott, Val, Adrenna, Susan…love you guys!