The Hardest Part of Running a Business

The Hardest Part of Running a Business

My store hadn’t been opened for very long when she said to me with a twinkle in her eye, “Madame, it looks like you are going to have to put on your big girl panties.” and then walked away.

She was right.

Someone owed us money and I needed to pick up the phone and call him to discuss it.

It was uncomfortable and awkward but it needed to be done. The invoice had been mailed several times, emails and voicemails had gone unreturned.

With my phone number blocked, I picked up the phone and proceeded to call this gruff and abrasive man to negotiate why he should pay us and pay us now.

It was not fun.

A few years later, I took on a project for a client whom I had a bad feeling about. I ended up in the same situation. She owed us a lot of money because we kept doing the work, even though she had not paid.

Having to chase her for money was the most unpleasant part of my business and even now, after all these years, once-in-a-while it happens again.

On one hand, I want to believe that people are good and that they will pay their invoices according to our agreement, like mature and responsible adults.

On the other hand, I want to create really rigid processes to ensure I am never taken advantage of again, because let’s face it when that happens, it doesn’t feel good.

Those people who are not always true to their word represent the hardest part of running a business. Click To Tweet

One might say, “let it go, it is a small percentage of your business, just ‘write it off’ as a loss.”

But here’s the rub….

For each of the three people who have stiffed me in some way over the past eight years, somehow in my gut I knew they were not a good match.

The lesson, the really hard part of running a business, is saying no to those people BEFORE they owe you money when you sense they are not as full of integrity as the other 99.6%.

So how do you do that? How do you graciously say, “no thank you” to business when you fear loss of revenue, hurting someone’s feelings, or being wrong?

It’s not easy and I am still learning but the simplest way to handle this is to stick to your own rules (in every case I described above, I made an exception). And, if you REALLY don’t want the business, just tell them the truth.

Put YOUR big girl panties on and say “no thank you, too busy, can’t do it.”

What about you? What is the hardest part of running your business? What is that thing that makes you squirm, keeps you up at night, and makes you wish you could just hire someone else to “just do it” for you?

 

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15 Comments

  1. I really liked this article. It brings up a very real problem and a solution. I truly agree with Lisa, trust your instincts. It is the Universe’s way of letting you know you are out of focus and deviating from the path and the flow of positive and prosperous energy. Great advice. Thank You Lisa.

  2. I used to have problems with my pricing but through the Pilot Program, I am learning to keep my “big girl panties” on. In the past couple months, one of my long-term clients did not want to continue the contract (finished end of October) they had with me because their board wanted to spend less money but also apply for a subsidy from the government by hiring someone from a support agency. Initlally it bother me but I stuck to my guns and will continue to do so. Lisa, thank you so much for your on-going support.

  3. For me it is definitely refunds, client concerns, unhappy persons!
    Those are tough conversations for me! I truly hate to disappoint or fall short of excellence. However, I’m learning and changing my perspective on these conversations. They really are a chance to be brave, vulnerable, reliable and learn what I could do differently or be human and admit I made a mistake and fix it to the best of my ability.
    Thanks, Lisa for encouraging all of us to be the brave and strong women that we truly are!

    • The secret is that you don’t have to fall short of excellence when saying no. You are almost guaranteed to fall short however, when you take on a client that isn’t a good match. Excellence isn’t tied to a “yes”. It is tied to the experience, regardless of the answer.

  4. I had the same issue with non-payment in the spring. She did finally pay up and put a hold on coaching her during the summer. I was thankful for the break because I needed to sort out how to handle her without feeling icky or feeling like a hammer in protecting my boundaries. When she wanted to start up in the fall again I kindly requested/required full payment prior to starting…funny…nothing was paid, I didn’t work with her & I was perfectly ok with it. This topic is perfect timing as things are ramping up for me and I feel good about keeping these boundries.

  5. Just this week I had to choose to stick to my pricing or give the client a deep discount (which she had received once before on a sale). She wanted the sale price, although the sale was long since over, and I’ll never run that low a price again. I told her the pricing. She said she couldn’t possibly continue at that rate. I told her I hoped that her business would prosper and that when the time was right for her, I looked forward to having her back at my spa.

    • It can be even harder to let go of a client once you’ve done business with them. Good for you on sticking to your pricing and knowing your value.

  6. Lisa-everything you say here resonates with me. While for the most part, non-payment is no longer an issue as I refuse to take those types of clients on, there is still some chasing and it really leaves a bad feeling and puts a damper on my productivity. AND, as a writer I often can not take my service back or suspend what I am doing for a client when it is already in print somewhere.

    I have tried billing a deposit or retainer in advance but it doesn’t always work with bigger clients and they aren’t the ones I’m worried about.

    More and more I am going with my gut reaction. I want authentic clients:)

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