When you are starting your Virtual Support business there is nothing more exciting then getting new clients. I love it… even now 8 years later I still love closing a new client. Sure I love the money but I love the newness of the relationship, a bit like the honeymoon stage…
Unfortunately, it has not always stayed in that ‘you can do no wrong’ stage… not for me and not for them. Eventually the reality hits and two things usually happen.
1. The truth that human error is inevitable and my team or I end up missing something or dropping a ball – this is never fun
2. The ‘crazy client’ epidemic hits. This is when this wonderful, brilliant client does something that reveals their sabotage toward their business, unrealistic expectation toward me or disorganization that creates chaos for everyone.
Either way… the honeymoon is over 🙁
Issue one, I will cover in another article… so stay tuned.
Issue two I want to address. I often get SOS emails from OBM’s who realize they might be in over their head with a ‘crazy client’ issue. Of course, when we feel a bit threatened we have a fight or flee response. This is human nature and it is the same in client relationships. So we get sucked into this trap of either defending ourselves and really fighting to be ‘right’ with this client… which often turns into tug-of-war and essentially is the end of that relationship. Or we want to drop them like a hot potato… leaving the client both frustrated and bitter toward the whole industry. Unfortunately this kinda hurts everyone.
What if there was a different way to handle this experience?
One of the top lessons I have learned through providing services for clients over the last 8 years is the importance of Leading My Clients. Laying a foundation of my expertise, that I am trust worthy, competent and more than anything care about their vision and success.
Often we think, well they are the business owner, it’s their business, they need to be able to lead me… after all I am the X (assistant, manager, service provider, etc…).
This type of thinking is exactly why our clients are out of control when it comes to the experience we are having in these relationships. But what if you were the person of influence in that relationship, rather than the one looking to be influenced? How would that change your ownership of the tasks, the way you connect with your client and confidence your client has in you.
The number one symptom of this imbalance of influence is feeling like there is a BOUNDARY issue with a client. But boundaries are not the issue. Laying down more boundaries will not stop this experience from happening. It’s like putting a band-aid on cancer…
When you begin to feel there is a boundary issue, what is actually happening is you have lost your ability to be a person of influence in that relationship and now you are not leading the client, but rather the client is leading you.
The question you have to ask yourself is do you want to go where that client is leading? Is that best for your business? Is it best for their business? Do they even know they are in the lead or are they expecting you to be and because you are not, they are just running with it?
This is where chaos happens, boundaries are disregarded and feelings get hurt.
Your clients role is to lead their business and their vision, but it is not to lead your business or your expertise. This is your responsibility. When it is being done effectively you really get to partner with clients and love the work you create together… when it is not being done or being done poorly, things will inevitably end badly. Usually with you feeling like you have a client that is out of control… but the reality is it might be that you simply gave up your control by not leading them.
If you want to learn more about Leading Your Clients you should consider joining me next week for the OBM Mindset Retreat where we discuss how the way you think, the way you make decisions about what you want (or don’t want) is the driving force behind creating success.