Can you be successful in business if you’re not a complete a-hole?

February 2, 2018


I don’t know about you other business owners reading this just because the title resonates with you; but I feel this is a question I need to ask and need an answer to.


Before all the business coaches come back to me about being sure of my ethics, goals and purpose etc… I am. Or at least I was, until a straw landed on this camel’s back and I literally just thought f**k it, WHY have I allowed this to happen to my business and how can I stop this in the future? If you can’t beat them join them, right? Perhaps I need to leave my honest, transparent, nurturing and trusting ‘values’ and adopt a ‘to have and to hold, forsaking all others’ marriage to my business and profit like a jealous spouse.


Like opposites attracting I have recently suffered a spate of late payers, non-payers and unbelievably unprofessional clients that have left me thinking it’s time to switch sides and join the arseholes.


But you know I can’t. I am going to have to over-come my life-long learned responses to situations and re-learn an appropriate response, one that protects my business, not my ethics.


If you’ve nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all


This golden nugget, repeated by me on a regular basis to my children, is a HUGE barrier in dealing with these arseholes. Anything that I don’t feel will be met with appreciation and happiness – is ‘not nice’ so I don’t say it!


  • Contradiction is not a nice thing

  • Honest opinions are quite often not nice things

  • Conflict resulting from not nice things is not a nice thing.


“Dear Mr or Mrs Client. You sat in front of me and asked me to start work for you ASAP. I then emailed your nominated colleague about how you would receive two invoices in short succession to allow this to happen. The work has been completed, whether you believe me or not. How we account for this work is clear in the SLA you signed, and I am happy to substantiate it. Despite your objections, this invoice stands… Oh you don’t want to pay it? That’s fine. Thank you for showing your true colours so early on, you’ll find our late-payment terms in the SLA, and credit control will send you your court papers when the time comes. Goodbye!”


Why didn’t I have THAT conversation, instead of acquiescing and absorbing the cost of that first month’s work? It’s because nothing I said in that conversation was nice. I should respect my elders, I need to put others first… blah, blah, blah. The result being 1. I lost money 2. They gained complete control of our relationship and 3. I gave the inch that led to the mile.


“The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.” Conan O'Brien


Do I need to un-learn my impulsive responses when in the business arena and condition myself for different responses? Surely, it’s the only way to stay in business… The simple answer is to harden up, get some balls and take it all less personally.


But it is personal. I want to be able to sleep at night feeling proud of how I have behaved and that I am conducting business that is true to my ethics. Dignity and integrity drives Push Start Marketing to work in partnership with businesses with similar ethics to achieve their goals. It is that simple.


We have just had an epic breakdown with a client I wanted to work with for years, but four months in and I had to send an email that would ultimately end the relationship.  When I look at the goals of their business and mine, although in two completely different industries it is a complete mis-match.

The clients I succeed with share the same values as us, have a clear ‘why’ which invariably is service led and value their budgets and our time when it comes to marketing. Push Start Marketing’s most successful clients are those that share our values of dignity and integrity. Oh look, there is that simplicity again.


So, what am I doing to effect a change in the way I work? Larger clients that approach me start with a day’s consultancy. A complete win/win for both parties. They get a day to talk through all their marketing fears, failures, hope and dreams and work through all the problems and barriers they’ve faced in the past with an outcome of a clear plan to move forward (with or without my help) and I get an insight into all the client’s marketing activities, making me more effective long term, plus I can decide if they are the kind of company we would be successful working with.


I could work with any arsehole and adopt similar arsehole tendencies (an excruciatingly painful process for me) but what I need to do is be strong enough and clear enough to understand what the right type of client is for me and, no matter how tempting, only work with them to ensure we can build the relationships and achieve long term success with and for our clients, without the inevitable disastrous outcome an initial mis-match will bring.


“Contrary to popular wisdom, the mark of a great meeting is not how short it is or whether it ends on time. The key is whether it ends with clarity and commitment from participants.” Patrick Lencioni


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