- Don't always expect perfection. Before you retype a letter for the third time or make another change on a proposal, ask yourself why. Perfectionism is a dangerous trap. Before you know it, your standards become outrageously and unreasonably high. Instead of striving for perfection, strive for the quality your clients expect.
- Learn when to say no. When you're building a business, you want to do everything you can to get and keep clients. It's easy for others to take advantage of your start-up status, but if you set ground rules from the start, you'll place more value on yourself and your skills. Unless a client is willing to pay for extra work or for a project that you're not interested in, but are capable of doing, say no. Otherwise, by the time you finish the project, you'll resent your client when it was you who should have just turned it down.
Bad Boss Behavior: Lori Ryckert and Pam Schneider, co-owners of Pristine Commercial Cleaning, an Overland Park, Kansas, company offering final cleaning for commercial construction, couldn't say no. In the beginning, they did anything to build their business, reputation and income, and were afraid to turn down client requests. "We were willing to do anything, be flexible and handle any job without much advance notice," says Ryckert. "We wanted to do whatever it took to get business."
Turning Point: On one of their first jobs, a new outlet mall, they worked 22 hours straight . After emerging from the enormous mall at 4 a.m., they were delirious, exhausted and frustrated. They had been paid well, but they knew that if they kept up this pace, their health, sanity and family were going to suffer.
Good Guy Solution: After three years in a thriving business, they've finally decided to give themselves a break. They can afford to be picky because they have built a solid reputation. Now if a client calls the day before they need the cleaning service, asking Ryckert and Schneider to work from 5 a.m. until midnight, they're able to say no and still get the job. Plus they've added two more employees.
Brother home office expert Lisa Kanarek advises corporations and individuals on all aspects of working from home and writes the blog Working Naked. She is the author of several books, including Working Naked: A guide to the bare essentials of home office life.