To author a good blog, one must be informed; that is, one must overcome an ego and read other blogs, in addition to other ways of gathering information. Personally, I often find inspiration or a trigger while reading other blogs – sometimes they touch me, or provoke me, or show me that some people are much braver or crazier than I am. Recently, I read one particular blog post* that especially disturbed me. This blog post described young people who want to start their own business, but in the meantime consciously choose to work for a corporation where they misuse resources offered by that company – telephone, printing, ideas or models, organizational structure, and procedures.
I made it through this posting and somehow found myself threatened. I saw my small business as prey, as the ‘corporation’ that could be misused by a potential employee, partner, or client. As a small business that often works with other small businesses and entrepreneurs, there is no guarantee that I cannot be a victim of ambitious individuals, whether young or old. I can…and you can as well!
A typical story starts like this…Once upon a time, there was a one-person small business (let’s call it ABC Co.) that, after being in business for a few years, had finally realized a need for marketing. However, like many small businesses, ABC had limited resources for marketing and had to choose a service provider wisely, taking into consideration both costs and the quality of work. ABC found a provider in XYZ Co., which although small itself, could effectively manage the rebranding effort, build a new website, and develop other marketing materials at a reasonable cost. The initial telephone consultation reviewed basic information regarding the direction and objectives of an initial live meeting. As a small business, XYZ was aware of the challenges of working with small businesses, as well as their needs for quality and financial constraints. XYZ needed this client, particularly given the tough economy. XYZ didn’t want to develop a proposal blindly, so it made sure to prepare – researching the client’s industry, competitors, trends, possible solutions for ABC.
The initial live meeting appeared to be successful. ABC showed lots of interest in what XYZ could do, actively asking questions and taking notes. XYZ went out of its way to wow ABC by its creativity, research, and ideas. As the meeting finished, ACB thanked XYZ for its effort and ideas, “…great meeting, thanks for everything”. However, ABC failed to mention that a family member, although without qualifications, would be a great resource for ‘marketing stuff’ and willing to work for free. XYZ did not consider a limit to giving away information and ideas in order to solicit the client.
XYZ followed up with a professional email that did not receive a response. A second email, sent a few days later, did receive a response in which ABC thanked XYZ for the hard work that went into the presentation, but that its budget could not currently afford an additional marketing expense. XYZ wanted to negotiate and be flexible for payment terms – it’s a tough economy and it’s hard for everyone. ABC replied after a week that it would not be able to invest for marketing in the near future. End of story. Wasn’t it? No! After few months, XYZ received a mass email sent from ABC, introducing its new brand identity, new website, a new ABC. XYZ was devastated – some of its ideas and suggestions were implemented…it was apparent that the family member did his or her work.
XYZ could only be enlightened - that too much information was not always optimal and that there were still some dishonorable and unethical individuals in the world. I guess the question is how much information is enough to persuade a client that you are capable of doing the work? Not every client is able to look though a portfolio and project capabilities or expertise. Not every client will understand complicated slides with a variety of inputs and outputs. I guess that there are no hard rules for determining the right amount of information. The world is not all black and white. Some of us are ‘manipulators’. Some of us are ‘ignorant’. Some of us are ‘good guys’ . Some of us are ‘leaders’ or simply ‘believers’. I regularly run into entrepreneurs who are nothing like the ‘entrepreneurs’ from the aforementioned article. These true entrepreneurs quit stable jobs at well known companies to take a risk, finance their own innovations / ideas, and truly become entrepreneurs that follow their dreams. Because of people like that, I choose to stay a believer and maybe, just maybe, sometimes give away more information than might be needed.
* Since I first read this blog post, the editor added a note clarifying that the article was intended to be an ‘observation’ rather than direct ‘advice’ to follow