I just had to ditto this post by Seth Godin last week – A clean sheet of paper. It’s a must read… go ahead, read it now.
This is so very very true! I’ve seen it time and again… business owners struggling and complaining that they aren’t getting what they want. When in reality, they haven’t defined the parameters of what they want in the first place.
One of my favorite questions when a coaching client tells me that they want a new website is to ask them:
“Great – what action do you want people to take when they visit your site?”
Seems like such an obvious question, and yet many times they have no clue what the answer is. And so we work together to figure that out first before they get anywhere near hiring a web designer to start on the site. Otherwise it can be REALLY easy to go down the road of spending loads of money to get something that isn’t going to serve their business.
And I can tell you from the perspective of someone who has worked as an online support professional for years now… it can be really frustrating to not get clear direction up front. Nine times out of ten the client will end up dissatisfied or even upset! So for all of us on the ‘providing services’ side of the coin – if you aren’t clear on what someone wants dig a bit deeper, insist that they get specific and if they can’t that suggests to me that they aren’t yet ready to hire you (or anyone) at this point.
Don’t assume that the business owner ‘knows what they want’ because they might not. Don’t assume that they want what ‘you have to offer’ as it may be way off track. And don’t be afraid to turn down business and suggest that they figure it out before you can start working with them – less headaches for all concerned and really, that is part of being a professional imo.