Business Begging Doesn’t Become You

Business Begging Doesn't Become You

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.

4 Responses

  1. You make a good point about ‘desperation’. I wrote similarly on VAs canvassing other VAs for work – they are looking in the wrong places.

    Like you I get a lot of these too every week and have some standard information I send back to them to help them on their way.

  2. Lu Sabal says:

    I read your blog often, but sometimes I am shocked by the “tone” of your response Reading your last submission really made me reel in disbelief.

    This VA seems to be making an honest effort to network with those of her kind…other VAs. Your response seems to be callous and a bit rude. While I assume that you posted a partial piece of her email I was really taken aback by the derogatory tone of the title “Business Begging”…which implied that she was expecting something for nothing when she contacted you for guidance. However throughout your blog you appear to be talking down to your emailer. You then go on to say you get a million of these a week which indicates that this is a common question that you are simply tired of being asked.

    I contend that there is no reason to further demean the emailer by telling her she is going about things the wrong way. At no point do you put a positive spin on things. Yes you do bullet point out areas where she should place her focus as an entrepreneur, however, I feel your response didn’t follow though in the way that it should have to promote your organization and its resources. In short, your response left a bad taste in my mouth.

    There are so many other positive ways this email could have been taken, however, I’m hoping I just misread the “tone” of the blog and my picture is all wrong.

  3. Listen, Lu, if you don’t like it, go away. It’s really as simple as that. It’s no skin off my nose.

    I’m not here to be “nice.” I’m here to help people be successful in this business. And sometimes the best business mentoring these people can receive, to save them years of flailing around, not making any money and then having to close their business doors, is being brutally honest with them.

    I hate seeing woman after woman in this industry have to shutter her business and her dreams of a better life for herself and her family because no one care about her enough to give her the cold, hard facts that would help her course correct and establish a business that actually succeeded. People in this colleague’s position have been shined on enough in this industry; it’s exactly what led to her predicament in the first place.

    THAT’S what I care about.

    All that said, I’m using this as an example generally for the benefit of every new person in our industry, not saying this to any one person’s face specifically. You can’t grasp that?

    This real person actually received a lot of tender care from me behind the scenes along with some free mentoring and business training that I wasn’t interested in tooting my own horn about.

  4. Very interesting point and helpful for myself. My niche in being a VA is subcontracting to others. Just a few weeks ago I was interviewed and discussed this topic. Yes I want to find subcontracting work but feel the same way you do. I can’t beg others I have to prove myself and get out there to show what I’m worth. It’s really great to find out how other VAs feel about this type of so called \networking\.

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