I run a slow business.
It’s not because I’m lazy, disorganized, or disinterested.
Instead, I like to take my time with things and get them done right the first time. I don’t like to do work twice.
I give credit to my dad who instilled this idea into me as a kid when doing the weekly chores. He would inspect my vacuuming work and tell me when I missed a spot (or many). I would have to haul out the vacuum cleaner again and essentially redo the job I did poorly the first time. It stuck with me.
It stuck with me.
In particular, I like to develop new business relationships slowly. After all, you can’t rush trust, which is the foundation for my work.
I also like to be slow and methodical with my project work and retainers. That’s how I develop the best strategies and outcomes.
Of course, there’s a time and a place to act swiftly. We all have deadlines to meet. But that’s not what I mean.
I have learned that the more slow and intentional I am, the better things are for everybody. As a digital strategy consultant, my job is to get business results for my clients’ through their digital (and offline) marketing.
In order to do that, we must first build a level of mutual trust and respect for one another. We also need to educate each other about our businesses; how we work, our challenges, our goals, and in many cases, intimate financial details.
Great work requires time and space. The analysis, research, and strategizing work is an often-overlooked part of my profession. But it’s absolutely crucial.
Partners vs. Suppliers
There are two categories of service providers: partners and suppliers.
Suppliers are order takers. They do what you ask them to do, and you better know what you need, because you’re not really paying them to think about the business outcomes. You’re paying them to do the job you ask them to do.
Partners, on the other hand, are focused on creating alignment with your business goals. It’s less about what you do, and more focused on achieving the desired business outcomes.
The difference is subtle but important.
I prefer to be a partner with my clients. My clients tend to be smart individuals who understand how marketing and digital strategy works. And they hire me to bridge the gap between the marketing they do and the business results they are looking for.
Often there’s not a straight line between the two. Business is complex by nature.
A supplier will sell their clients whatever they ask for. A partner stops and thinks about the feasibility of their clients’ requests, and looks at it through the lens of whether it will achieve the outcome they really desire.
A partner advises on direction. Strategy plus tactics. The focus squarely on desired outcomes.
Mutual Understanding and Care
Creating a true partnership requires a mutual understanding of both parties’ goals and interests. It takes time and trust to do this.
A partner cares about your ambitions and aspirations. A partner works with you to achieve them.
In contrast, a supplier relationship is primarily transactional, which can work in many situations. After all, I don’t need to partner with my local grocery store to be happy. But I also expect less from them.
If you ever decide to do business with me, you’ll know that I care about your true objectives.
I can’t afford to be less than perfectly honest with my clients, nor them with me, and I take my time in the beginning to build the foundation for a successful partnership.
That’s why I go slowly at first, and why I take my time with projects.
In exchange, I expect you to care about my interests as well. I expect you to care about creating a mutually beneficial relationship, founded on openness and trust, where together we look out for our best interests and help one another achieve our personal and professional goals.
This thought probably goes back to my ideas around creating a business utopia, but it’s grounded in a place that makes sense to me.
It will make sense to my best clients as well, but it will be foreign to those not suited to work with me.
It’s the reason I like working with business owners the most: they tend to be idealists, like me.