Running a small business can be exhausting. It is hard to determine what to do next and what not to do. Reminds me of cleaning a house, it never ends, there is always something else to do. There is a concept out there called working smarter not harder. Personally, it sounds easier said than done.
However I have been working on it and here are a few ways that I apply it…
- Choose the best client or customer to work with
- Focus on the most valued product or service that we provide
Most of this is working “intentionally”. So instead of working with everyone who finds us, my goal is to choose to work with the right client. It is difficult to be everything to everyone.
- But who is the right client? For me it is the one who creates passion and we can provide great value to. That special client that makes me want to answer the phone, that gives us energy and experiences lots of success. I rank our clients – the A clients, the B clients that we are working into A clients, C clients that we provide value for but will most likely never change and those that would be better suited someplace else. When I evaluate who we are working for I consider their ethics, their appreciation for what we do, those who pay timely, those in which we earn a fair return on and those who are easy to work with. My focus is on who is going to help me build my dream business not the client that is keeping me up at night.
- What is the most valued product or service that we provide? It is our customers opinion that counts in this case. I pay attention to customer comments, reviews and the testimonials they have provided. Our mission is to improve the lives of small business owners. Most accountants provide tax returns. My goal is to look beyond what the client asks for and see what is possible. How can we help them be more successful and provide more value? Personally, I find that this is a moving target.
So, instead of saying yes to everyone and everything – it is important to me to make sure we can have a successful relationship. I have found it very costly and frustrating if we take on a client that doesn’t fit or provide services that are outside of our area of expertise. I am learning to identify those situations early on.
I have discovered the biggest key to working smarter is to “say no”. To say no to the “not right” client. To say no to the services that we do not typically provide. This is my greatest challenge. Logically it is easier to say no before damage is done, but the heart gets in the way. I have spent a lot of time making things right, when saying no at that start would have been the right thing to do. It is also very freeing to pick and choose what challenges I want to tackle.
Yes, running a business can be exhausting, it can also be exhilarating. Working smarter, not harder helps keep the passion there.
By Mary Guldan-Lindstrom CPA