Entrepreneurs. CEOs. Mom-preneurs. Dad-preneurs. Artists. Contractors. Whatever title you hold, your brand and business is your baby and no one wants to leave their baby with a stranger. Who is a stranger? A stranger by definition is someone you do not know. A stranger as defined in business is someone who has not proven their worth through work ethic and skills; and that is scary when you are rebranding or getting your business off the ground and they are yelling ‘pick me!’. It is no secret that there are some very crafty scam artist who will display all of their skills and ‘clients’ only for a business owner to discover that they misrepresented themselves. Unfortunately many have been had by a stranger which makes them look at a legitimate business as a stranger. This can cause a lot of tension in a business relationship, because there is no trust for the expert. On the other hand there are many contractors and freelancers that have also been attacked by strangers, but they must carry their baby (skill sets, time, and services) in to the next hands and hope that this new client will be careful with their baby.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN BABY FIRST
The reason we hire people is to complete tasks that we are otherwise incapable of doing, understanding, or do not have time to do amidst other tasks. When you take a baby to a daycare it is hard to part with them, the same happens when you are a business owner or contractor that must relinquish total control in a new project. Before you take your baby to daycare, it’s imperative to spend time with them first so that you can get to know them and their needs. The same thing happens when you are building your business. You need to craft how you want your business to run and be open to suggestions, and not having tunnel vision. When you are handing a tasks over to let’s say, a Creative Specialist, you should educate yourself on that particular realm of expertise. This does not mean that you learn all of the schematics of the field; however you should have a ‘Creative Specialist for dummies’ level knowledge of what the person does so that when you hand over your baby to this person you should know what to expect as you would expect of a daycare provider.
- Learn the basics of how the field/skills works.
- Look for pricing as if you were a contractor trying to price yourself.
- Google your company (if you have a website) or similar companies to see how they operate and how you want to be different.
These tactics are imperative to get to know how to take care of your ‘baby’ as either a contractor or a business.
As a contractor it is important to know if your ‘baby’ (skill set and expertise) will play well with a potential client’s baby. If you know that the project will require more than you are capable of, be honest, and say that you will collaborate or refer them to another contractor to complete the tasks. Just as some children can be in the same room, but do not play well together, it is the same thing when it comes to providing a service to a client. Knowing that a project does not fit within your brand or expertise or vice versa is a disappointing experience, yet a humbling and honest one to where both parties walk away and ‘play nice’ because they know the value and characteristics of their respective businesses.
The infamous term of mansplaining is also applicable to strangers who want you to pick them so they can make quick money with little work or get a lot of work with no money paid. This is equivalent to be lured to a van with candy. We’ll call this Candy-splaining. Candy-splaining: The act of presenting a ‘sweet’ opportunity in an auction style tone and carnival slyness that insists the company/contractor choose them and a payment or product is under-delivered or not delivered at all. Unfortunately this happens to a lot of new businesses, whether a contractor or business.
When a colleague of mine was starting her business, a woman had presented a grand opportunity for travel, expansion of skills, and moving to New York City. She was a contractor who worked in a creative field jumping at every opportunity she could to build her portfolio and her first love, travel. Plans and a small deposit were made that the ‘Candy-lady’ insisted upon because a bigger payout was coming later. My colleague took the candy and did $5,000 worth of work. When the payday came the Candy-lady had absurd yet believable excuses. After a while of believing the sweet lies , my colleague had to cut her losses and move on, never receiving her payment.
If you find yourself in a Candy-splaining situation have enough power to walk away, because you do not want your baby to get caught in a van that they may never find their way out of. Unfortunately after coming through an experience like this, you are wary of anyone who is trying to sell something to you, and this is on both sides of business. My advice is not to have a sweet tooth; a desire to chase money and not having discernment about the type of client/contractor. Opportunities to excel always look great, but read the ingredients: Fine print on the proposals, researching the client/business/person, checking who else they are connected to and avoid anyone you are in direct competition with. In my experience, those who can and will deliver are humble in their approach, asks and answer questions authentically, and have a general idea of how they want ‘the children to play together.’ Be friends, not strangers.
THE PLAYPEN PACT
When you’ve had a Candy Van experience it’s not uncommon to want to micromanage everything to protect your business. When a mother first leaves their child in daycare or their first day of school there is a moment of guilt for leaving them. This is a normal instinct to have, even with your business. Do not allow the guilt of leaving your baby to play with another baby and be in the care of someone else to consume you. It will not serve you well. When two children come together in a playpen there is an unspoken trust that they have within the confines of that playpen. The playpen is your marketplace and with a little trust and discernment the children will play nicely. Continue to learn how to play with each other by respecting each other’s value. Nail down a process that works for both the business and the contractor. Create a space to learn from one another consistently, even if it is the ‘for dummies’ version of expertise. Ultimately the pact made within the playpen is that both the contractor and client are on a mission to grow up together.