My Week – Step into the unknown

pondHello folks, please allow me the space for an autobiographical account of My Week. I need to get it out of my system.

If you are a regular reader of my blogs you will know that I started my practice without any practice experience and zero fee bank. As a result, I have made many whopper mistakes that have cost me financially and emotionally.

One of these mistakes was taking on clients that simply were not the right fit for the practice because (1) I had a gut feeling from the start that they were not the right in terms of their personality and (2) my skill level did NOT match their needs. It resulted in most of my practice’s time being spent on one or two clients that were not the right fit from the start.

Over the week, I had a potential client interest that I would not have thought would even bother to look at our website and contact us. We are talking about a fee level of £5k plus for a small company made up of people from highly privileged backgrounds. Unlike me, speaking the Queen’s English.

I, an immigrant from sunny Malawi, who had to work so damn hard for every little thing, felt like fish out of water when talking to the potential client in question. Further, that gut feeling kept nagging me saying, no no no, this will not work. Just say NO and move on. My ambition to increase the fee bank made me take it further.

As I expected, after our telephone conversation, the potential client emailed us a detailed scope of the annual cycle of work. Yes, all the  I’s firmly dotted the T’s well crossed. After reading the spec, that gut feeling started nagging me again NOT to take it further.

The next day, the potential client called twice and asked for me. The logical side of my brain was not giving up on that £5k plus fee. One the one hand I wanted that fee and on the other that gut feeling would not stop nagging me with nos.

At lunch time, I went for a long walk to think. I thought about the consequences of NOT listening to my gut. From a long term perspective, I lost out more than the fee that strongly drew me to ignore my gut.

I thought about some high fee level clients I took on that were not the right fit. I also thought the about the impact of my decision that resulted in a low morale practice and the increase in my stress levels.

Towards the end of my walk, the logical side of my brain was finally in sync with the emotional side – saying best to let this one go.

On my return to the office I sent the following email to the potential client:

Dear Mr xxx

Thank you for further information including the scope of work.

I read all the information in detail  As much as I want to, I do not think it would be ethical of us to take it further. This is because we are a small practice, and we do not have the required skills to meet your needs. 

xxx accountants in xxx may be a better fit for you. They are a bigger practice with a varied portfolio of competencies. 

Thank you for taking the time to speak to me yesterday. I am sorry, I am not able to help. 

The next day, the potential client called twice and asked for me. I said to myself, how the hell do I get rid of him!

I reluctantly returned his calls. To my surprise, he thanked me for my honesty and said that he would recommend me to others. He stated that he wanted to speak to me rather thank me by emailing. What a result!

Even at my age, I will continue to make whopper mistakes. The minute I stop making them means I am not taking enough risks to take my practice forward. I do not think I would have got where I am today without stepping into the unknown. I do not do enough of it.

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