Let me introduce you to Lynn Miller (twitter handle is @organicmania). She’s a client of mine. I picked her up a couple years ago. She needed a simple WordPress blog theme along with maintenance and support from time to time. If I compare her to some of my other clients in terms of monetary value, I wouldn’t put her on the higher end. I certainly have other clients who pay me more.
However, as many of us professional service providers know, money, is but a small factor in our relationship with our clients. Lynn’s contributions to my business can be measured in other ways. Whenever one of her friends or business contacts needs my services, Lynn will refer them to me. We also share similar professional interests in the fields marketing and social media. Those commonalities allow us to go outside of the client-designer relationship and talk as peers all the while brainstorming.
But then there is the personal relationship. About every 2-3 months, I host something called The Amazing Dinner, which is an at-home dinner party for entrepreneur friends. I always invite her because I want to introduce her to other like-minded entrepreneurs. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we are hang-out buddies, I do think a certain personal relationship has evolved too. She’s connected to me on Facebook and has admitted she’s taken an interest in my various activities and drama that goes on in my personal life. Whether it be me going skydiving or being completely confused by women (aren’t we all), she will reach out to me over phone, share her own life experiences, and just be a bit more than a ‘client’ to me.
So you might be asking, “Why is a web designer talking up one of his own clients?” Good question.
I have several reasons;
- It’s very rare that you see any consultant or any business talk up one of their clients. I am not even sure if I can recall ever seeing a web designer bragging about one of his clients. But I chose to do so here for the simple reason that none of us entrepreneurs would be here without our clients. Yes, sometimes they drive us crazy and we feel like cursing them out when they don’t follow our directions. But from to time, you’ll find a client like Lynn who makes things worthwhile.
- Business does not always have to be business. There’s nothing in the rule book that says we can’t venture beyond the typical business relationship. I wanted to introduce you to Lynn to help show that there is value beyond the status-quo business relationship. Some of the best experiences we have in life isn’t necessarily the travels and adventures we take. But it can also be the daily interactions we have with friends, strangers, and business contacts.
- Let’s face it; this economy is making it tough for many of us business owners. We tend to focus on what is lacking. And what is lacking is more clients! I hear ya. Believe me, I do. But no amount of focusing on what you’re lacking will ever get what you want in life. So I choose to be grateful. I choose to be grateful to have wonderful clients such as Lynn. Thanks Lynn. Gratitude folks, gratitude.
- This one is targeted towards fellow web designers and internet professionals. We work in a field where everything is ruled by technology. Our clients come to us because of our understanding of internet technology. But behind the codes and the internet jargon are real people like Lynn who have real ambitions. They rely on us to help power their dreams into reality. Let’s remember that.
- To encourage others to start a similar practice that I am starting. Look at your existing roster of clients and see who you would like to spotlight from time to time. What sort of value have they added to your life beyond the money? Would you be willing to go so far as to write up a blog entry about them and let them know how much you appreciate them? I hope so.
Seth Godin says that “small is the new big.” How true. There are certain advantages that a small design studio like mine can have that the bigger agencies don’t have. We develop stronger relationships with our clients. In the bigger firms, there’s no such thing. If your a small business, embrace your “smallness”. But always think big.
We would not be where we are today without our clients. They help pay our bills and are the catalyst of our dreams and ambitions. But it is not a one way street. It is very symbiotic. We help them while they help us. Let’s keep moving.