Welcome to 2017 and all of the new business opportunities that are waiting for you this year. In preparation for what’s ahead, this is an excellent time to revisit the importance of trusting your gut. You know…that inner voice that gives you subtle (and, often, not so subtle) nudges.
Over the past 13 years of running my own marketing services business, I’ve encountered five scenarios when I’ve followed my instincts without regret. While it often takes courage and faith in yourself to trust your gut, I believe it can help your business tremendously.
It’s OK to trust your instincts in business when…
- Taking on new clients.
This one should be the easiest, but I sometimes find that the lure of a new client may cloud my better judgment. If anything seems not quite right during the initial meeting or phone call, you shouldn’t overlook it. Probe deeper to see if there are any other potential warning signs. See #5 below for details.
- Accepting new gigs.
Remember, you’re the best person to know your potential and limits. As a sole proprietor, I am only one person and I try not to extend myself especially if I’m working with new clients and may need extra time to ramp up. If you feel overwhelmed before you even get started, something is not right. Just say no!
- Expanding your scope of services.
When I first started my marketing business, I focused specifically on marketing writing and demand creation activities. It all changed when one new client asked me to try something different — product marketing. Fast forward to more than 10 years later and now most of my projects are product marketing related. It was a good move for me at that time. I went for it because I felt extremely confident in what I was doing and for whom I was doing it for. But if my skills and experience are not a good fit and I feel uncomfortable about what’s required, I’ll politely decline. If possible, try to give the client a referral to someone else who can do the job.
- Partnering with other service providers or individuals.
I won’t lie. It can get lonely working for yourself and it’s often refreshing to partner with others. But if you get that immediate feeling of a non-collaborative fit, move on! Trust me, you will find your virtual team. And once you do, you’ll look forward to working together and growing from each experience.
- Encountering unexplained red flags.
Of all the scenarios listed above, this one is the toughest to follow. But in my opinion, there is never one red flag. They typically come in pairs. If during the initial contact, the client blows you off, asks for something completely out of scope, wants you to unnecessarily prove yourself, or cut your rate beyond market value, run and run fast.