I received an email today from a colleague looking for work (I feel like get a million of these every week):
“I have been in the business since 2005 and had established relationships with a number of clients in the different states. However the last few months has seen loss of clients due to their financial constraints. I’m reaching out to you for any overflow work you may have. I do not wish to steal clients; I’m simply asking if there are projects or areas of projects you need assistance with to consider my services. You would get to review whatever I do before forwarding it to your client and so you would maintain representation of your work quality and standard. Also, if a new client contacts you and you are not able to take on their project please pass on my information.”
She included her resume, and has apparently sent this message to a huge list of colleagues whose emails it appears she’s gone to great effort to harvest off the Internet.
My members and I were discussing the message, trying to decide if it was legitimate or not.
If it is legitimate, I am sorry for her predicament. However, even so, she is going about things the wrong way.
To create a successful, profitable, sustainable business, she needs to do what the members of my association do every day: Become students of business and learn how to be smarter, savvier, more knowledgeable business owners.
What does that mean?
It means learning how to:
- Get over employee mindset (business owners don’t submit resumes and I could care less about your resume; I want to see your competence demonstrated in your communications and how you run your business);
- Start thinking (and marketing) like a successful business owner and master of your own ship (you position yourself as a loser no one else wants if you have to beg your colleagues for scraps);
- Charge properly and stop giving away your time, expertise and the value of your work;
- Define a target market for greater clarity, focus and results in your marketing messages and efforts;
- Create systematic, methodical and intentional standards, processes and policies in your business;
- Focus on core offerings, ideal clients AND ideal work (it doesn’t pay to take on anything and everything); and
- Gain deeper understanding of the real service you offer as an administrative support partner.
Plus, most of us are simply not going to entrust our work to strangers. We are more likely to refer or subcontract to those we have come to know, like and trust through networking and have built relationships with.
While I certainly feel sympathy for her, as a business owner, I’m not attracted to anyone who resorts to business begging or wears their desperation on their sleeve.
It’s a signal to me that there’s a high level of business sensibility missing and makes me also question their competence.
I simply would not entrust my important client work, much less my own business work, to someone who doesn’t inspire anything but the highest confidence.
Who knows; she might land a few small gigs from her email blast. But that isn’t going to tide her over for the long-haul or contribute anything to the fundamental changes that need to take place in her business so that she doesn’t find herself in this predicament again.
I wish her well, and hope that she will have the wisdom to invest the same kind of time and energy she did in harvesting our email addresses toward overhauling her business and educating herself on the points I’ve outlined here.
Her business survival will depend upon it.