Usually when success hits the entrepreneur, it hits all at once. You are probably not prepared for the onslaught, when that invisible switch flips and the clients flood in. You don’t expect it, no matter how long you hope for that day and await its arrival…
How do you measure success?
After years of struggling, barely eeking out a living, and working day and night to build your business… you realize (usually suddenly) that you have arrived. How do you know?
- You have a full work schedule, probably too full
- You have more business inquiries from potential new clients than you can possibly serve
- You find yourself asking, “What should I do with the overflow?”
You could refer the business to others, but you hesitate to give away the fruits of your labor. (It was too hard to cultivate those fruits!) So what should you do?
Give it away!
Forget those old notions about protecting your “turf” — now is the time to share the wealth! The world is a big place. Once you make a name for yourself, you will continue to preserve and build your reputation as your business expands. You shouldn’t be concerned that your stream of clients will run dry.
It’s easy to worry that if you give away potential clients now, more may not come back later when you actually need the business. But, the best insurance policy against future “dry spells” is sharing your bounty.
Giving others a “hand up” as they are building their businesses builds goodwill. It is the right thing to do. It’s something that someone probably did for you — or something you WISH someone had done for you. Be that person for someone else — or several someones.
Giving away your excess leads builds enduring professional relationships and promotes strong networks between peers. And, should the time ever come when you find your client load a little ‘light’ — these relationships and this network will help you to survive during periods with little new client activity. Chances are your peers will share the wealth with you.
Find your balance
Yes, even when your schedule is full, it’s still tempting to take on the particularly “juicy” clients:
- The clients that you “click” with immediately, even during a single phone conversation
- The clients that have projects that get your creative problem-solving juices flowing
- Clients that offer the potential for a long-term relationship
At this point , however, you should only consider taking on new clients if you are replacing existing clients. The idea is not to work more and enjoy less, it’s just the opposite. If your current client load is less than ideal, evaluate what you want for yourself and what direction you want for your business. Let go of less than perfect clients and take your chances with a new client or two. But, always consider your long-term goals and make sure you aren’t working harder than you should.
Remember, there are a limited number of hours in your day. You are one person. Do the math. Determine how much you need to work and plan to spend time away from the office when you don’t have scheduled client projects and meetings.
Enjoying your business success should not mean that you enjoy life less. It’s great to love your job, but you still need personal time. Realizing that and making personal time a reality — now THAT is real success!