I’m a small business owner, very small to be exact. I used to have a nice office with employees and even a bookkeeper and Sales person. But after 2008 I changed my business model and went with a leaner format. I now handle most of the work myself and then outsource on a contract basis what I can’t handle. Not the way I wanted to run the business, but out of necesity has become the norm. I still have a bookkeeper, but I now only use her at the end of the month to reconcile my account. This means that I send my own invoices, deposit my own checks, AND collect my own money !! The worst part of the job in my opinion. Second only to “cold call sales.”
The other day I had lunch with a friend and she asked me how business was going. I explained that some days better than ever, but some days I still have the horrors of the 2008 crash playing in my head and so I never find myself too optimistic theses days. And then I explained that now I wear “many hats” which make what I do sometimes extrmely difficult. Not in the way you might think though. I can work until I fall asleep and bang my head on the desk lol Not a great trait, but it’s fact. What makes it difficult is the the topic of this weeks post. I hope it resonates with some of you and maybe helps in whatever area in life or your classes that need it.
So what makes it most difficult to wear “Many Hats” is that in a typical client interaction for me I have to find the project, sell the project, do the project, bill the project, collect the money for the project, then ask for ANOTHER project. In a perfect world and in a good economy, that isn’t too hard to do. Especially with good clients, which I have managed to find over the last 9 years. I have weeded out the bad ones and who ask for too much and pay TOO little and traded them in for the ones who are most reasonable and value what I do. I have to say I am easily in the above 90% satisfaction rate for myself with these clients. But for the purposes of todays post let me play a scenerio of a “poor” client experience.
Let’s imagine that I finished a project that probably took more time than expected because a client had unreasonable expectations. Then lets imagine that they are two months past due on paying their invoice. NOW let’s imagine that “I” as a struggling small business owner find myself with a dried up pipeline and in desparate need of 1. The client to pay and 2. A new project. This is a horrible place to be (at least it used to be).
So the conversation goes something like this. With an already poor expectation of how the call will go, and a deep seeded desire to not work with this client again, I first have to call as the “Book Keeper.” “Hello Mr So and so, this is Bookkeeper and I am calling about invoice 55555. It’s two months past due and I was wondering when we might see that payment.” This goes one of two ways. They either will act embarressed and say they haven’t been paid yet, but you would be shocked to know that more often than not what I get is attitude where they try to project it on me as if they are waiting to see what errors I made on the project before they pay me what I am owed. So THEN I have to put on both “Worker who did the project” and “Owner of the company.” These roles can also go two ways. I am either defending the quality of work, OR I am explaining that review and revisions should have been done months ago and should not be a reason to say 3 months later that payment is held up because of them.
Once that part is resolved, and some agreement for payment has been made, THEN guess what hat needs to go on ?? You guessed it, “SALES GUY” hat. UGH !!!! I get a knot in my stomach just typig out that scenerio because I lived it for WAY too long. But I am hopeful that aside form the rare occasion, I now have the ideal cleint base who makes this interaction rare and much less painful if it does occur.
I believe that this very true story plays out in every one of our lives whether you know it or not. I wear many hats as a father, as a friend, and as a husband when I was married. And you do too! It’s not something that any of us can change, but I believe it IS something that we can all manage better in order to make the experience (life) much easier to deal with.
Now since I never know who reads these, I am going to stear clear of any mention towards family and friends. I don’t want any uncomfortable run ins or angry emails lol But let me just say this and move on. What I have done with regards to family and friends is set bounderies, lower expectations, and narrow down significantly my circle. I don’t necassarily keep anyonme out, but I don’t let everyone in to stay for too long either. If I have a circle of people who respect and value me, and I respect and value THEM, than its a pretty cool place to be. And then those who don’t, that step into the circle, I give them enough time to show me whether they are there to help or hurt the atmosphere and if they are there to hurt then they are sent away until a later time when they can show me something has changed. Otherwise they only get to waive to me from outside the circle.
Recently I posted something on FB which I have tried to NOT do because too many people love to create drama from tiny things. In a nutshell it was this: Someone whom I used to hold dear to me and that I respected tremendously stayed at my home for 5 days. I had a business trip and so I wasn’t home. I cleaned the house, and even baked them fresh banana bread before I left. But did not have time to wash the 4 bread pans so I put water in them and left. But when I got home, this person didn’t wash the bread pans. So my FB post was basically asking “How many people think that is proper behavior/etiqate?” And in typical FB fashion, the point was totally missed and most people explained to me that I should not expect someone to wash the pans just because I let them stay at my place and that I should not “Give to get.” Now I take some responsibility for not explaining my question/point better, but what really got to me was how many people thought it was completely normal for someone to stay at your home for 5 days, use your water, your electricity, your food, and then totally ignore 4 pans in the sink but wash their own. To me that just strikes me as odd because I wasn’t rasied that way. You would have to go out of you way to just leave the pans there and work around them lol But the thing is, it wasn’t the point and I wasn’t expecting anything from this person as payment for using my home. I expected this of them because I thought that someone in my “circle” was the type of person who would behave the way I would behave. Who cares that the pans took me 3 minutes to wash. I cared that we are living in a world that more and more behavior that we used to not tolerate is not becoming so acceptable. The “Bread Pan” thing was just a metophore for the bigger picture I am seeing all around us. I mean, if I hear one more time “Oh, that’s just how the Millenials are” I think I’m gonna kill myself !! lol Why do we give passes to so many people to not treat us with respect, ESPECIALLY when all we have is our time? This is why I work so hard NOW to keep my circle small and invest almost ALL my time with the “Good Clients, Friends, Family” so that I can limit how much time is wasted on those that bring me aggrivation, irritation, and disappointment.
Let’s now talk instructor to instructor. We all have the person(s) in our class who complains about the music, complains about the bike, complains about the system not working, etc etc etc. Do you find that do what I do and am trying to STOP from doing. I will have 55 people in class who are working hard and focusing on themselves and their workouts. But when that person comes to me with the list of ten problems that no one else seems to have about the class, what do I do ??? I invest all my time on trying to fix everything on their list. “What, you don;t like that song ? I won’t play it. Turn down the music, absolutely. The bike isn’t reading the correct wattage, let me sit on it and try and fix it and then get help if I can because obviously if the wattage is off by 30 watts than there is NO WAY you could possibly get a good workout because until we had wattage meters no person was ever able to get a good workout.” Is that you ??? Well it was me and to some extent still is. But I’m changing. I’m working harder on being a guy with less hats because if people think you’re there to ONLY fill their needs then you never get any of yours met. I love teaching second only to my kids. It feeds my soul to know someone enjoyed my class and that some story I told during class to inspired them to go make a positive change. So the more I get pulled out of that and into things that I can’t help because let’s face it, the person complaining is ALWAYS going to have something to complain about. So think of your Love/Passion/Time as a currency that is in limited supply. If you think of it that way, and be more frugal with it, than you will find yourself less likely to waste it on people who are only there to suck it out of you like energy vampires.
The next time a person who I KNOW is just about complaining tells me the bike is not working to their standards, I’ll tell them I’ll have someone look at it and leave it at that. The next time they say don’t play a song, I will take a poll at the next class. You get the idea ? I am NOT trying to pass the buck and I am NOT trying to shut people out. What I am trying to do in all aspects of my life (Work, Relationships, Career) is to spend MORE focus on growing the plants that I know will grow and flourish and spend as little as possible on the plants who are sucking up all my water and sunlight which leaves me less for the plants that mean the most to me.
So maybe this week look at your lives/classes and make a list of how many hats you wear and how are they suiting you. Are you the Sister who everyone unloads their family problems/gossip on ? Are you the brother who is thought more of like the family bank? Are you the friend who is always expected to say sorry first? And are you the instructor always trying to please the one or two people who may never ever be satisfied and who is taking you out of your true flow where you give off and receive the most passion ? If so, do as I have been doing for years with my business and start firing cleints. Get rid of or distance yourself from the ones who are constantly pulling you away from who YOU are and re-engage in a way that your class and your circle is SO big and full of SO MUCH Love/Passion/Joy that even if there was room in the circle for these people, the smell and brightness of all the gorgeous flowers (POSITIVE ENERGY) would be so uncomfortabel for them they would either change or leave you alone all together.
Brute honesty I know, but in sticking with my newfound philosphy if it pissed you off than we probably would be friends anyway.
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