A few days ago, a prospective client said to me, “We would like to compensate you for the all the time you’ve spent.” They had reached out to our team and asked for help, but hadn’t had the time to move forward. To be acknowledged for time, effort and talent is a gift itself. I explained that we believed in investing the time in a relationship from the beginning and there was no need for compensation. Our team had spent approximately 8-10 hours tailoring a proposal for their business —from rough sketches of logos, to website, to logistics and functionality. That time translates into a lot of money; why would we approach our business this way?
It is all about being present. These small businesses put all their passions, work and, in many cases, personal financial support, into their business. They’ve put so much presence into these dreams; don’t they deserve the same? So, we are present; we treat or clients and potential clients like they are all that matters. Why? It’s personal. If you have ever called a customer service line or walked into a mega-store and felt like you were just another number, then you understand. We all desire to be treated as significant, worthy people.
From a purely business perspective, why would it matter? Wouldn’t we lose money in some instances? If you are a start-up you probably hear this phrase time and again: “It’s an investment.” Every time you work on marketing your business, there is no guarantee —it’s an investment. This is no different; it is a long-term investment in a relationship.
Nearly all of our clients return time and again for new projects. Aside from relationship building, this approach is valuable; we need to insure we design the best for them. If we hadn’t taken the time and energy to get to know them and understand their vision, how could we create great design for them?
And, last, but not least, it’s about honesty. We need relationships with our clients that nurture honesty. We need them to tell us what they think and feel. Just recently we were designing for a gentleman who had directed us to create a logo with a specific style and approach in mind. We spent several hours and submitted two different logo designs. He apologized and said that he wanted to take a different approach. Because he was honest, the resulting logo speaks more boldly about the identity of the business than before. It wasn’t just good design, it was great —and all because he wasn’t afraid to say, “let’s take a different direction.”
Think about your business. Are you present with the people with whom you interact? Are you rushing to the next thing, or do you give them the gift of your time and energy right then and there? Being present may not make you the richest person in terms of a bank account, but you WILL BE rich and so will all those whose lives intersect with yours. No matter what the world tells you, being present is profitable.