If you’ve been keeping up with me through Facebook, you know how important honesty and integrity are to me. This post is not to brag, but rather to give you some examples of some very hard decisions I have made lately in my business, and hopefully to encourage you.
Example #1: Today I had a lunch meeting (OK, it was a frozen yogurt “lunch” meeting) with a client and very dear friend. Over a week ago I had referred her to a colleague for a project that was slightly beyond my comfort range for my technical abilities. In the course of the past week, I acted as go-between for client and vendor, and mind you I am accepting ZERO dollars for this job. No finder’s fee, no commission, nada.
It felt like the right thing to do… at the time. However, a few days ago I discovered some new software that would enable me to do the job, and keep all the profit.
There was one dilemma: I had already promised this job to the other vendor.
It was hard. I didn’t sleep much last night. I was saying “no” to over $1,000 worth of work. I spoke with my husband (and advisor) about it and he encouraged me to talk to the vendor and ask her if it would be OK if I kept the job for myself. And I woke up still struggling with the decision.
Maybe that’s why I decided to do the harder thing, but I felt it was right. I left everything as-is, and made myself be at peace with my decision. Although the client wouldn’t mind if I took on the job myself, I wanted to do right by the vendor who is someone I respect and admire.
I’m still making ZERO $ on this job. But I’ll be able to sleep well tonight.
Example #2: The past nine months have been brutal for my personal life, and that trickled down into my business. Catastrophic changes occurred with my family, I was personally attacked (I know, hard to believe some people could hate me!) and my life was threatened—over and over and over again.
I was ready to quit. I was focusing on my problems, which resulted in a huge mistake with a kind and generous client, one who actually appreciated me.
When the dust settled, I realized my oversights and offered to make it up to him at a price that would take hundreds of dollars of my own pocket to fix. Because I felt that was the right decision.
This particular example has happened a couple times in my business life, and each time I am blessed beyond belief for making the right decision, and accepting the fact that I am human and can make mistakes. I honestly believe that by taking responsibility for my mistakes, and the mistakes of those on my team, I am building a solid reputation for my business.
Example #3: Recently I spent many hours on a weekend (including Sunday, my day off) as well as several hours throughout my week putting together a bid, consulting a past client, and helping him make the right decision for his project. I was extremely accessible—maybe too accessible—but I thought that was the right thing to do. And I knew all the while this client was also looking at a competitor.
After I spent hours of my life helping him, and put together a bid for what I thought he wanted, he decided to cut my team out—completely. Even though I’m confident my team can do just as good a job as my competitor, I recognized why he made the decision. They have a little more experience (ie: older) in the industry than I do, and they came in significantly lower with part of the bid due to bidding something completely different than what I bid.
What did I learn? First, it’s always good to be reminded you’re not the absolute best at what you do. There will always be someone better than you, but you will always have a unique talent as well. This was a necessary wake-up call to my pride. Second, I learned that I needed to be more clear on what the client needed for his project, which meant I need to become clearer in my questions.
What did I do when he told me he was going elsewhere? I’ll admit, at first my adrenaline surged. However, I was happy for him. First of all, my competitor is a good friend. I told him if he had chosen anyone else, I would kick his butt. 😉 But since he chose the other person, I knew he and his project were in good hands, and I look forward to seeing it get completed with excellence, even if I am not to be a part. Because that was the right thing to do.
So, this brings me to the question… How hard is it to do the right thing… really? The answer: REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY HARD! It’s not easy at all to say “no” to thousands of dollars of income or to pay out of my pocket when I or a team member make a mistake, or to praise a potential client for going with a competitor. In fact, some business people might call me “stupid” for doing it. So why do I do it?
Simply because it is the right thing to do.
There are others who make more money than me, are climbing in their businesses faster than I am, and are at first glance, more “successful,” than me. But I know who I am, where I’m headed, and I would rather have a slow and steady climb to the top than shoot to the top quickly and hurt people along the way. I refuse to let my business crash and burn due to my impatience.
If this lengthy post did anything for you, I hope it encouraged you to keep doing the right thing, no matter the cost. I never know how doing the right thing will pay off, but it always does. If you have a story to share, please comment below!
Photo courtesy Shutterstock, EtiAmmos