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May 8, 2010

LILLA P: Demand to be treated like a client

During our conversations with Pauline of LILLA P, we talked a bit about what it is like to be in uncharted territory, whether that is new to business or perhaps just new to the phase you are in.

Pauline issued sage advice, which was to always demand to be treated like a client. It can be tempting to follow the lead of others when you are in the novice position, especially when dealing with vendors or in other business-to-business relationships.

Pauline recounted an experience with a manufacturer in which she let the other company drive the bus because she didn't feel experienced enough to set the terms, tone, or tenor for the relationship. She indicated that it was a big, costly learning experience for her and that since, she has always played the role of the savvy client even when the process was new to her.

Pauline's advice has sat with me since and given me reason to pause and think about the various business relationships that we have.

It is easy when starting something new to follow the path of least resistance, to rely on the more experienced people at the table, and to assume that their past experiences have generated work patterns and policies that are effective and efficient.

And, isn't tremendous when you do hire vendors that just make the whole process so easy? They effortlessly bring their expertise, experience, and systems to the table and immediately solve your pain? But the reality is, that this is a lot to expect and taken with Pauline's advice, I have a feeling that this kind of assumption can really set everyone up for failure and disappointment. It is just too simple to be steamrolled by a process that you don't understand and that may not work for you.

Better to evaluate each relationship, recognize when you are the client, and insist on being treated as such.

Of course, the shoe fits on both feet. It is also important to recognize when you are not the client and to learn to treat the other party accordingly.

-posted by Adelaide Lancaster


Dwain DeVille said...

Adelaide, excellent advice for entrepreneurs at any stage. Too often we look at others as experts when indeed it is us. We need to remember that it's our vision driving the relationship and we're offering them an opportunity to come along.

Katie Karlovitz said...

It is good advice, on one of the points of doing business that seems more emotion driven than just good common sense.

Adelaide, any thoughts on appearing in charge as the client when knowing little of vendors expertise?