If you are great at what you do and manage clients well, you never lose one unless you wish to. Inevitably your 2,160 working hours a year get filled, and you are faced with working longer days and even weekends to maintain your business. I looked to my peers for help and ultimately learned to share the work and the revenue. My business grew. I work less, and my clients are happier. And my income has increased. I use the word “clients” instead of “customers,” but the methodology is true in any service-based business.
You will need to evaluate what is important in your peers’ lives. Try to ascertain if they can appreciate your management assistance (employee) or if they prefer to manage themselves (entrepreneurial).
• Employee: In most cases, your ideal employee should prefer to focus on their family, travel or hobbies, and they should not wish to add the stress and commitment that comes along with running their own business. In this situation, it is your job to evaluate their strengths and capitalize on them.
• Entrepreneur: In most cases, they will take little advice from you and will not commit to your given work schedule. This is a relationship for workshare, but do not let them participate in the management of the client relationship.
You will need to build a network of both to be successful, but know that your biggest issues — stolen clients and otherwise billable hours lost to training — happen when you confuse one for the other. You should monitor and manage them on an ongoing basis.
As a general rule, I have come to live by, your investment in any new employee or entrepreneur relationship should be only 60 to 90 days of cash flow to them before the relationship will carry itself and begin to reward you. Be clear on this: If by 90 days you are still cash flow negative by this provider, terminate your relationship with them. They will never reward you monetarily.
Peers with complementary skill sets add to your ability to competently pitch more work with greater success and retain work.
You have built your network now grow your business. Marketing mix is ever-changing, and dollars spent never guarantee success. The best advice ever given to me was to associate my business with a cause I believe in and support it. That advice led me to help build Gleason’s Give a Kid a Dream, a youth development program I am extremely proud of. I was able to use my time, creativity and love of boxing to help at-risk youth learn to box, stay out of trouble and get into college or vocational school. Through the process, our social media and website spoke of our firm’s love for community and our efforts to help, not how amazing we are at consulting or tax.
Another great example: A client who has a passion for rebuilding old motorcycles created a charitable workshop for young people on parole to come and share time rebuilding motorcycles. The workshop became a place for him to mentor these parolees.
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