Last week I was reminded, once again, that not all business is GOOD business and saved myself from making a HUGE mistake. A company seeking to engage with us in a project that would bring me clients – easily a $100,000 deal or more, with little to no effort on my behalf – came back with a 21-page contract chock-full of 8-point type “whereas,” “covenants” and “notwithstandings” that essentially outlined many and various ways they would cover their ass while simultaneously choking me out of every dollar if the wind blew the wrong way. To make matters worse, the payment terms we verbally discussed were wrong, and even after I pointed that error out, it came back a second time for me to sign with exactly the same mistake – so it’s a big fat no.
My rule is this: If I have to go multiple rounds nitpicking details and fighting over terms with your legal team over the signing of a contract when we’re still in the romantic-honeymoon phase of the relationship, we’re NOT doing business. How you do anything is how you do everything. If you’re this difficult NOW and not paying attention to IMPORTANT details, what happens when things actually go sideways? Forget it. I took that class already, and unfortunately more than once – and the key word here is “more than once.”
Problem is, we all have dysfunctional “stuff” and baggage we lug around with us – essentially, deeply ingrained behaviors that are VERY hard to break, installed years ago. If we don’t carefully watch ourselves, these behaviors will drive us to make really, really bad decisions over and over again.
One of the behaviors I have to watch is to NOT jump on every opportunity like a whack-a-mole game. This program got installed over 30 years ago when I was actually poor and struggling, working as a sales rep for commission. EVERY opportunity was important because I didn’t have much. I either woke up every day to HUNT or went hungry. Saying “no” to sales opportunities feels wrong to me – as if I’m spitting in the eyes of the sales gods, cursing myself to a world of eternal objections, never to rise again. That’s just my baggage. If you’re not careful, you have baggage too. It’s probably different than mine, but it’s there, driving you.
This is why I have and use litmus tests and checklists to keep myself in line, to determine if something is a good deal or not, if I hire someone or not, or if I move forward with a project or not. My own “opportunity criteria.” Recently, I avoided hiring a very bad person, but ONLY because I forced myself to follow my hiring litmus test. I was tempted to skip hiring steps on this guy because he was recommended by someone I trust, had direct experience in selling a similar product and a solid track record of being a TOP sales rep. I almost just hired him. Almost skipped steps to fast-track him. The thing that saved me was talking to the previous boss – a step I almost skipped.
It was a GOOD reminder for me to follow my own outlined litmus tests and processes. Such tests are necessary for me because my baggage is to say yes to opportunities too quickly – but if I violate my own rules, I’ll get myself into trouble. Every. Single. Time. It’s the same reason I can’t have Skinny Pop popcorn in the house. I’ll eat it. ZERO self-control. A gal’s gotta know her weaknesses and limits. I know mine and have to put in place safety rails. The enemy within is far more dangerous than anything external. Do you know yours?