With the past few months seeming to feel like “the summer of weddings,” I’m happy to say that I was one of many that got hitched during this COVID-postponed wedding season. Like most premarital couples, we spent the time leading up to our wedding receiving counsel from our pastor and ensuring we discussed important topics prior to making this commitment.
Looking back on how my husband and I went from two awkward homecoming dates that mostly talked over Snapchat to now sharing a home, a dog, and lifelong values, there are some key things that come to mind that I believe hold true for most married couples:
I’ve only been a newlywed for about a month now, but I can confidently say that these early on conversations have ensured a successful long-term relationship.
The dating process is just qualifying a person to see if they are a good match for you. Businesses similarly do this every day with potential customers. While we like to think of our relationships with clients as transactional, we get much more invested than we’d like to admit.
Instead of being afraid of commitment and accepting any and all customers, businesses can learn to qualify early on before ending up divorced, broke, and having wasted resources (time, assets, emotions) on the wrong prospect. When you’re willing to put this effort in, it’s possible to have mutually beneficial professional relationships.
So, why isn’t this as simple as it seems? Nobody wants to be in a toxic, draining relationship, but we often find ourselves there when it feels too comfortable or risky to break it off. These clients may pay well, have a separate or personal relationship with someone in the business, or be a long-time customer. But if they don’t fit the qualifications you have for an ideal customer, it’s not meant to be.
Not cutting ties with an unqualified client is like staying in touch with an ex who you know you’ll never get back together with: unhealthy, exhausting, and a waste of time.
How can we start weaning out the unqualified clients and attracting the ideal ones? Each contract you enter with any potential customer should be treated like a marriage proposal. At this point, you have communicated your values and aligned on expectations already and now you are just agreeing to the formal commitment.
With this mindset, we are much less likely to “date” any potential client without the intention of them being a long-term commitment. Similarly, we are much less likely to take on a “side project” for an unqualified client, as this would only distract you from the current marriage(s) you have already entered into.
If you are wondering what a healthy client relationship may look like, here are some key qualities to look for:
Since each business is unique and holds their own set of values, it is beneficial to define what your qualifiers are to make the dating process more smooth. This allows you to identify disqualifiers early on and exit the relationship before it even begins.
At Only Co., these are the key things that show we would work well together:
Of course, a relationship with the most ideal client won’t flourish unless you are an ideal partner. Here are tips on how you, the business, can set your client up for success:
Once you have your unique qualifiers identified, you will often find that when you deviate from these rules, those relationships usually expend much more energy than they were worth - and then you are back to square one trying to find a qualified candidate. Staying true to your qualifiers can often make you feel like you are losing out on opportunities, but living into them will pay off by ideally having only qualified relationships down the road. This allows your business to live into its value propositions, to grow with good clients, and eventually scale your business.
“A good marriage is one where each partner suspects they got the better deal” - Anonymous
Like any relationship, the professional ones are a day to day effort and require grace, uncomfortability, and empathy. The future of your business is like the children you raise - it will one day be your legacy.
Knowing that our clients help define our business, who do you want to partner with today to nurture that future?
During our chat with Rob, we talked about how his path in economics during college ultimately led him to becoming CEO of a finance company.