And I’m going home early.
It’s not that I don’t have things to do, but the normal buzz of emails, phone calls, Zoom meetings, etc., has already quieted down this week.
For the first many years that I worked on my own, I didn’t slow down, even when there was little to do.
I thought that running your own business meant working hard, all the time.
Eventually, I realized that there are quiet times and busy times, much of which has little to do with how fast I’m pedaling.
And I know from experience that as a solo professional, things can go from sleepy to crazy-busy very quickly.
So, when it’s sleepy, I sleep.
Mark Tatro of RotateGraphics designs everything for me and for many of my clients. Newsletters, web sites, information products, the banner at the top of this email … everything.
I love his work and he always makes me look good (I know what you’re thinking, too bad he doesn’t design faces).
But when he suggested a font last week for the redesign of my main web site, I asked him to try something else. I just didn’t love it.
The thing is, he is undoubtedly technically correct. He’s an expert – he sees things that I can’t see.
I don’t care.
The font won’t make or break the site and the new look is well over the bar of “professionally designed.” At this point, what matters most to me is that I like it.
One of the (many) great things about working alone is that you never have to compromise.
So sure, feel free to ask others what they think of your logo, company name, photo, husband, or anything else that requires an opinion, professional or otherwise.
Just make sure that when the asking is done, you’ve chosen something that feels right to you.
The first involved one of the email vendors I use: a 30-minute wait to speak to a human.
The second involved my credit card company: don’t get me started.
The thing is, these types of interactions are not the exception – we are all forced to deal with big company bureaucracy every day.
Which is why your competitive advantage as a tiny professional service firm is to provide prodigious (SAT word!) levels of transparency and availability:
Respond to emails; return phone calls; provide complete contact information on your web site (not just a form); don’t require every interaction with you to go through your virtual assistant; and maybe stop using “we” on your web site when we all know it’s really just you back there.
Big companies can’t get out of their own way. That’s not a feature; it’s a weakness.
In a world where we are all tired of empty promises of the your-call-is-important-to-us variety, your unassailable advantage is YOU.
I commented on someone’s LinkedIn post.
I responded to a newsletter that came to my inbox.
I replied to someone who commented on my newsletter.
None of these things are going to bring me clients today.
And yet, when you do these little things, all day long and every day, there is no more effective way to grow your professional service business.
“Marketing” isn’t a thing you do once a week on Tuesday afternoons. It’s every outbound connection, every day.
Try and do more of these.
I was on a small group networking call and I asked someone, “What kind of work do you do?”
The five-minute-long answer, which I believe had something to do with real estate law, included several detailed descriptions of changing regulations and their implications.
Here’s the thing: The point of telling people what you do is not to impress them.
It’s not even about getting them to hire you; the chances of them needing you, right now, are exceedingly low.
It’s simply this: To get them to understand and remember what you do.
This way, in a week, or a month, or a year, when someone they know mentions a problem, your name pops up as someone who can solve it.
If your description of the work you do doesn’t feel to you like a painful oversimplification, you’re not doing it right.