Danger Words to Look Out for in Business

by | Nov 13, 2019

We talk a lot about marketing and design. It’s the game we’re in, after all. But we’re, ahem, “seasoned” business owners too. So there a few things we know about running a business that don’t strictly have anything to do with marketing. One is certainly valuing your time. It’s the one thing you can’t get back.

There are a number of things that get my alarm bells ringing when it comes to time vampires and sometimes it is just one word. Ironically, that one word is often “just”.

Perception vs reality

When someone asks you to “just” do something, watch out. “Only” is an equivalent.
“Can you just do XYZ for me?”
“It will only take a few minutes.”
“It’s just a case of…”
Warning City.

Here’s the example I often quote. It was a client who wanted Codebreak to send an email out to her database.

“It’s just a two-line email.”
I gave her the cost.
“What?” she exclaimed. “It will only take you a few minutes. You scoundrel.”
OK, she didn’t say the last part.

I must stress she wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was a case of her perception not being the reality. She thought it was a quick job when in fact it wasn’t. The work entailed:

1) Designing the email
2) Proofing her the email (she did want a couple of amendments, even though it was “just” a two-liner)
3) Scheduling the email for the best time
4) Monitoring the opens and unsubscribes
5) Reporting back on the opens and unsubscribes

All-in-all, it was an hour’s work outside of our agreed scope, hence billable.

Educate the Client

When I explained the work involved, she was cool and understood. As long as you can educate someone politely, the outcome is often positive. But it’s important. For them to value your time and the time it took you to learn how to do something well and quicker than competitors who may be cheaper

It may be tempting to do something for free because you’re lovely. But what happens the next time they want something similar doing? At some point, you’ll have to hit them with a bill and there’ll be outrage.

It’s different if it’s someone you’ve never done business before. It may make sense to provide a freebie to show them what you can do. But make sure they know that it is a skilled service, as they have to put value on it otherwise there won’t be any appreciation. “I’m doing this for you because I’d love you to become a client. The work will take about an hour, it ain’t easy, but I’m seeing it as an investment.”

Hopefully, it goes without saying, but freebies to get someone onboard should only be done once. Netflix gives you your first month free. That’s it. No chance of a second month free ever. After month one, you’re either in or you’re out.

Can’t Pay Won’t Pay

You do need to suss out who’s likely to become a client and who’s simply a freebie seeker, of course. Some people will never pay for a particular service. The carrot dangler, I call them. The ones who promise you the world if you “just” do this freebie for them. These folk will often use the word “collaborate” too, but that’s a whole other blog….

And always remember that people should pay you for the years not the minutes. A job may take you 15 minutes but that doesn’t mean you should charge for 15 minutes. It may have taken you 15 minutes because you’ve been doing it for 20 years. Accumulated knowledge – when implemented properly – demands a higher price tag the longer you keep on learning.

Any other danger words in business? Let us know in the comments, if you’re reading this on our social!

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