i3 - July/August 2018 - 39

Business
By Jake Sigal
A DV I C E FO R E N T R E P R E N E U RS

Thank You. No Thank You.

 M 

any small tech companies support larger businesses. But
as an owner, it can get sticky when you're asked to do
things that just aren't in your company's best interests.

While every small business owner is (or
soon will be) familiar with "bad customers," knowing what to do when a good
customer asks you to do something that's
bad for your business requires a careful
approach. Sometimes you simply have to
say, "Thank you. No thank you."
The value proposition for a small
company is speed and commitment.
It's worth a premium. It's important to
articulate your business model to your
clients on every new project or assignment. Your work for your client represents a very small part of their expenses
and mindshare. Let your client know
that you are there to support them, and
that you can do what they need done
faster than most other groups.
Unfortunately, the value proposition
rarely includes excess resources and
budgets for feature creep. While communication about products and services
always happens, communication about
your value proposition and how to leverage strengths and avoid weaknesses is
often a missed opportunity.

The value
proposition
for a small
company is
speed and
commitment.
It's worth a
premium.

Gary Waters/Getty Images

Take the Time

Keeping your client up-to-date quarterly
on your overall business helps avoid misunderstandings. I book quarterly or biannual one-on-ones with my clients.
Typically, in project meetings, there are a
number of people on the working team:
engineers, project managers, product
managers and other stakeholders. I'd recommend making these quarterly update
meetings one-on-one sessions. Three's a
crowd, and that can keep these strategic
meetings from really opening up.
Book a dedicated meeting, where the
only agenda item is talking about your
relationship, your business, what's working well and areas for improvement.
That's a great way to get feedback. What
C TA . t e c h / i 3

most CEOs don't realize is that it's also an
opportunity to share feedback with your
client. Let them know how you can help
them go faster and get more done. Also,
make sure to give them a high-level
update about your business with other
clients. Tell them what's working well,
and what's not.
Even with the best communication,
there still comes a time in most business relationships when it just doesn't
make sense, even at a strategic level, to
accommodate a request. Be clear about
your decision. Share your concerns.
Tell them why you're saying, "No thank

you." Don't stop there. Ask why the
request was needed.
I've kept clients happy by finding solutions to the problems they were trying to
solve. Whether their request is an out-ofscope feature, supporting an event out of
pocket, or a price reduction due to a client's
corporate signing limits, remember that
you have the power to solve problems. As a
small business owner, it's what you do best.
While bad customers have to go, great
customers always need accommodation.
If you can't absorb the cost or resources,
don't be afraid to say, "No." Just make sure
you don't forget to say, "Thank you."
JULY/AUGUST 2018

39


http://www.CTA.tech

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i3 - July/August 2018

Contents
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