Ever since my early university days, I’ve made a habit of working out a couple of times a week. I certainly have seen my fair share of different gyms, workout styles, fitness dynamics, and of course, gym stereotypes. Now, I’m going to take a moment to issue a warning: if you don’t like stereotypes, don’t continue reading. I will be talking about these idiosyncratic tendencies throughout this article because it’s simply human nature to stereotype people. As my university psych profs would happily concur, our minds are designed to categorize people – but I digress because I truly want to talk about business values.
The point of this article isn’t about stereotypes (or gyms, for that matter!). Today, I wanted to spend some time dialoguing about values – specifically, those values related to your business. They hold deep importance to the fabric of our business world and personal lives. It is pivotal to ensure they align with your own personal set of core beliefs and tenants.
In my experience, this is a non-negotiable. Proceeding into any business arrangement that goes against your values, will result in a breakdown of the relationship at some point, be it near or distant. To illustrate my point, let me re-introduce fitness into the conversation.
Common Goals, Common Business Values
Before I found my current haunt, I worked out in plenty of other gyms. They all claimed to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone, regardless of age, demographics, skill level, fitness goals, etc. However, once you walked through the doors, it was immediately clear that membership favoured a primarily younger demographic of guys and girls who had side careers as models. People wore their best name brand clothes to work out in, used the mirrors to check their make up more than their form and spent more time flirting than actually using the equipment. Yes, there were the people who truly were there to be healthy but they seemed like a minority when you scanned the floor.
This never quite jived in my head – what about those stalwart values that the gym claimed to uphold? More pointedly, what about my values?
Before long, my relationship with those sorts of gyms came to an end, every time. When I started at the local YMCA, I found a gym that aligned with my core principles. The fitness team there has their business values posted throughout the gym and building. As you look around, those values permeate the environment and radiate from the instructors, the members, the class dynamics and even the ambiance of the weight room floor. Everyone from instructors and trainers to run-of-the-mill members varies in every demographic – and we’re all here to get healthy and make our lives better.
Mismatched Business Values: A Volatile Combination
How does all this gym talk relate to business? Allow me to explain. Recently, I lost a big client. At first, I was a little miffed. No, scratch that – I was pissed! Our entire business relationship, I had done my best to go above and beyond for this client. I built a long-term strategy around the work that we were doing, as involved and ongoing as it was. I recruited a team to accommodate our shared goals. Looking back on things, I am still convinced we provided a quality of service that well met the high standards I hold myself to on the job.
Still, I lost the client.
Identifying the Signs
After plenty of reflection, I realized that it was honestly for the best – for both of us.
Looking back, there were several red flags that came up throughout our professional relationship. I dismissed them all because I truly liked the client as a person. However, there was always something that rubbed me the wrong way. In my gut, something didn’t feel right. Just before our relationship ended, I honestly started disliking the work I was doing for the client and becoming stressed in every interaction. I was shocked by this given our four-year relationship. Then, the relationship ended, and I felt like I could breathe again. It was an incredible feeling!
Upon reflection of WHY I disliked the work, I was surprised at my realization. The work wasn’t different from what I did on regularly for other clients, but this situation felt different. I know now that this is because our core values didn’t align.
The Disconnection of Business Values
As you all know, family and trust are incredibly important to me. However, regardless of how often I expressed my commitment to these values, it simply did not seem to resonate with the client. Asks would come through at all times of the day and night, followed by terse emails or phone calls demanding to know why I didn’t reply over the weekend within hours of receiving the email. No matter what steps I took, my efforts didn’t stop the constant complaints and little quips.
Compounding this issue was the constant lack of trust on the part of the client that persisted even years into our working relationship, no matter what I did to prove myself a reliable person and partner. Right through to the bitter end, every social media post I wrote and design decision I made was scrutinized, questioned, and gone over with a fine-toothed comb. Yet, the client still kept seeking my advice on their marketing practices. Then they would go against it almost every time to save time or resources.
This sort of working relationship isn’t healthy. Full stop. It isn’t productive, it doesn’t lead to success, and it will only cause you stress and headaches for as long as you continue to struggle to keep it afloat.
Your Business, Your Business Values
I have one takeaway lesson from all of this that’s easy to remember but can be tough to commit to. If you have these feelings about any of our ongoing business relationships, cut your losses now.
No, I’m not telling you to sever ties with a client because they sent back some edits that you just don’t feel like dealing with. What I am encouraging, though, is for you to take a step back from the one client who takes up all of your time, who stresses you out, who’s never happy with your work, and ask yourself: do our values align? Is this stress really worth it all in the end?
Hey, maybe it is. Maybe they pay really well and maintain high standards that push you to better yourself creatively. Tough love from clients can take your skills and relationship to unimaginable heights. But think long and hard, respecting your boundaries and values. If it is time to part ways, don’t be afraid to say goodbye. When the dust has settled, you’ll feel lighter, freer, and able to breathe once more.
It’s Your Decision
The best thing about running a business is that you have absolute authority to decide who to work with and who to pass by. You’re 100% in control of who you engage and collaborate with – partner or client. Take advantage of this power and ensure that the individuals you do business with are aligned to your values.
Sometimes, you work with someone you like as a person but the business side of things doesn’t jive. Other times, you part ways because your businesses are growing in different directions. That is OK. You are letting one another go so you can grow in your ways. Reconnect over coffee or drinks sometimes.
It might be tough saying goodbye to those clients and individuals who don’t fit the bill, but your business will be the better for it. And so will you. You’ll feel stronger and more connected with those individuals you do continue to work with. It will open the door to much more success and opportunity than you might otherwise have missed.
Looking for some marketing help that aligns with your core business values? Take a look at our values and see how they align with yours! Contact us at The Marketing Girl where trust, family, and high-quality standards and results are the values that we subscribe to – give us a call today if it sounds like we might make a good match!