About six months into running this business of mine, I found myself at my computer at 4am desperately fixing a problem for a client that I hadn’t caused.
I’d made the mistake of looking at my emails before I went to bed, and found a frantic missive. I can’t remember the exact details, but it was something about the website redirecting to a strange place.
Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that I was beavering away at my keyboard at 4am instead of snoozing in bed listening to my beloved snoring.
There’s no way that would happen today.
It took me a while, but I learned that it’s my business. So I get to set the rules.
You can too.
Part of running a successful business is being honest. Not just with your clients, but with yourself. What are your hopes and fears? Your goals? Your expectations – not just of yourself, but of the people you want as clients?
For example, I never answer the phone unless I’m expecting a call from someone specific. Phone calls are a massive distraction and interruption. If I’m in the middle of researching something for a client, or writing something for them, I don’t want the phone blaring away and breaking my concentration.
So my clients know that they can leave a message on my voicemail and I’ll get back to them as soon as I can. I check them three times a day: first thing, at lunchtime, and late afternoon so unless I’m on holiday they won’t have to wait long.
Likewise with emails. Along with social media, emails are the biggest timesuck around. How much time do you waste with emails?
You know what it’s like. You’re working away, and “ding!” goes your email program. Once you know it’s there, you have to look, right? And suddenly, you’re not concentrating on what you were before. You’re sucked into something else. Usually something utterly pointless.
So I apply the same rules to my emails. I check them three times a day. That’s it.
My point here is that I’ve become much more productive since doing all this stuff. I am less busy and more effective and my clients get a better service. I have more free time.
Let me ask you another question: have you ever had a client you wished wasn’t your client?
If not, you’re lucky! If you have: well, I’ve been there too.
That’s another thing I learned – that I don’t have to say yes to every potential client that comes my way. Nor do you! This is going back to premier positioning a little, I guess, but it’s worth reiterating: you should be concentrating on the clients who are going to be most value to you.
One of my best bullshit filters is watching to see what a potential client asks me when we first get in contact. If the first question out of his mouth is: “How much do you charge to do such-and-such?” I know I’m not going to want to work with him.
If his first question is: “I’ve got this problem – how can you help me solve it?” It’s a fair bet he’ll be good to work with.
This isn’t a copywriting or marketing-specific email, really, is it? But then I’m not just about helping you with copywriting and marketing. I want you to run a really successful business and that means looking at more than just the marketing gubbins.
It means taking a good, long look at yourself, your expectations, and your wants.
Remember: this is your business, and you can set your own rules.
So here’s a little homework for you: make note of what you’re doing at the moment and how you’re doing it. When are you answering the phone – and do you absolutely need to right there and then? Who are you dealing with, and are you happy with the way that’s going? Would you prefer people to contact you another way?
Then make some changes if you need to.
You’re accountable to nobody else.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.