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WHEN BIG CLIENTS BECOME BIG BULLIES
desperate to keep them.Who wouldn’t be desperate to keep someone who brings in over 50% of their business? So bigger companies will regularly miss deadlines, cancel meetings last minute, ignore your systems, and be slow to pay. It doesn’t matter how difficult they are because these companies know if they say, “Jump,” you’ll say, “How high?”This won’t happen right away, of course. But things erode with time and these big clients just get worse and worse. I’ve even had big companies hire away my key employees! In the past, my biggest client tried to buy my business. When I turned them down, they canceled our contract and hired four of my six engineers instead. That left me in a serious rough spot for a while, and I was forced to reassess my relationship with bigger clients. Protect Yourself FromYour Biggest Clients After my terrible experiences working with big clients, I’ve made a few rules: • The 8% Rule —No client can be bigger than 8% of my total business. I have a formula that helps me keep things in check. This means I’ve had to turn down big offers before because that potential client would have become too much of my business.
Could you afford to lose 60% of your business in a single day? This is a question a friend of mine has to answer right now. For many years, my friend’s company has done business with a large supermarket chain, which shall remain nameless. His company did maintenance on the freezers for all the store locations in our area. This supermarket accounted for nearly 60% of his business. Imagine his horror when the supermarket’s management team came in last year and decided they would bring freezer maintenance in-house instead of outsourcing it. It was a cost cutting effort that lowered my friend’s business by more than half. The Trap of Big Clients Landing a major client sounds like a dream come true. Rather than taking care of a bunch of different clients, you just have to take care of one client who, in turn, pays almost all your bills. Let me tell you from experience, this dream is actually a living nightmare. Having massive clients is such a risk, and it decreases the value of your company if you ever think about selling. Agreeing to take on a client who becomes most of your business is a huge mistake — one many businesses keep making. I have a lot of friends who run businesses. Almost all of them have one large client who dominates more than 30% of their business. In fact, I just learned that one of my own clients has a massive customer who is 80% of their business! Taking on clients of this size is just asking for trouble.When they cancel — and they always do — it will send your company into a tailspin. And in the meantime, your biggest client is also your biggest bully. Worse Than High School Bullies When big companies do business with smaller firms, they’ll inevitably bully you because they sense you’re
Netflix or HBO Max each month. Using ACH protects us against big companies who are chronically, painfully late on their payments. Being late on payments like this is basically taking advantage of our business, stripping value from us that we could be giving to other clients. If we let one company take advantage of us like that, we’re cheating our other clients. C redit Card Fees — Sometimes bigger clients will want to pay with a credit card so they can get points from their credit card company. But our fees are based on cash.We don’t inflate our fees. Everyone is subject to the same fees, which are based on calculations of what it takes to run our business. If a company wants to pay with a credit card, we’re going to charge them a bit more because of the costs associated with credit cards.
My advice is to never let one client dominate your business. It’s asking for trouble. If you’re going to have one massive, dominant client, you need to protect yourself, because they can wipe you out. You have to have policies for dealing with them, and you have to be willing to stick to these. Telling someone no is okay. It’s worse to let them continue to wring you out like a wash rag, and that’s exactly what they’ll do. Dominant clients will keep squeezing and squeezing until there’s nothing left and they leave you in the dust. Don’t give them that opportunity. You’re worth more than that.
Staffing Contract Clause —After losing four of my technicians, our contracts now have a clause that states if a client hires away any of my employees, that client will pay me 50% of the employee’s salary. Likewise, if I hire any of my client’s employees, I would pay the client 50% of that employee’s salary. It’s a protection that goes both ways. ACH Draft —Automated clearing house (ACH) payments are when you authorize a biller to pull funds directly from your account to make payments. This is basically what you do with
–Randy Sklar Security. Availability. Support. .................................................................................... 804-730-2628 • 1 A REFERRAL IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY. WHEN A CLIENT REFERS FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES TO US, IT REPRESENTS AN APPRECIATION OF A JOB WELL DONE. IF YOUR FRIENDS OR ASSOCIATES COULD BENEFIT FROM OUR SERVICES, I’D BE HONORED TO HAVE YOUR REFERRAL!
M any entrepreneurs dream of catching lightning in a bottle — of harnessing new, powerful ideas that will propel their business to the cutting edge. Whether they call it disruption, innovation, or genius, many business books focus on the “lightning” side of the equation. But those flashes of brilliance mean nothing without a bottle to capture them in. According to author and physicist Safi Bahcall, if you want to turn momentary inspiration into tangible success, you need structure. Bahcall explores this idea in his book, “Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries.” He examines many successful innovations that were originally deemed “crazy” or “doomed to fail,” including the breakout success of the James Bond movies and how Lipitor became a pharmaceutical blockbuster. What these phenomena have in common is that they were supported and made possible by a positive work environment structured to nurture ideas that were “just crazy enough to work.” However, success stories aren’t the only focus of “Loonshots.” The book also examines companies that paved the way as innovators, only to stifle change and lose momentum. Bahcall puts Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), Polaroid, and other titans that let the lightning out of the bottle under the microscope to show readers where the companies’ organizational structures went wrong. To Bahcall, the way business owners organize their team is With ‘Loonshots’ ACHIEVE INNOVATIONAL SUCCESS
PASSION OR BURNOUT? How Leaders Can Combat Obsessive Passion
If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
This is a lovely old saying that needs to be thrown straight into the trash. Even when someone is fortunate enough to have a job they truly love, that job is still work, which means they’re going to need a break from time to time. Unfortunately, employees who are passionate about their work are also most at risk for burnout. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies burnout as a syndrome “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The three symptoms of burnout as defined by the WHO are:
1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
3. Reduced professional efficacy
Burnout can affect anyone in any industry, but a study published in the Journal of Personality found that individuals with “obsessive passion” for their work are the most likely to suffer from burnout. According to the study, this is due to the fact that “obsessive passion produces conflict between work and other life activities because the person cannot let go of the work activity.” Individuals with purpose-driven work, such as executives, nonprofit employees, teachers or principals, nurses, and physicians, are the most likely to fall into the trap of obsessive passion. In order to prevent burnout in the workplace, leaders must promote what the Journal of Personality study called “harmonious passion.” This mindset allows individuals to fully engage in the work they enjoy while also creating habits that prevent future conflict. Dr. Edward Ellison, co-CEO of The Permanente Federation, urged leaders to speak against our culture’s “always on” mindset of working at all hours. “If you are so inspired to do what you do, then you’re not necessarily good at setting boundaries,” says Dr. Ellison. “We need to teach people that setting boundaries is okay. It’s not selfish. It’s actually selfless. It allows you to be more effective at what you do, and to better [help] those you wish to serve.” Leaders must also keep an eye on the well-being of their staff. Emphasize the importance of taking breaks and not working through lunch. Create a culture that does not shame employees for taking time off when they are unwell, mentally or physically. Above all else, lead by example and don’t let your passion become an obsession.
the same as how temperature shapes water. You can be cold toward new ideas, which freezes progress and makes your company too brittle in the face of change, or you can be warm and let your team’s ideas flow in exciting new directions.
Drawing on his experience as both a physicist and the co-founder of a biotechnology company, Bahcall is able to make his case in entertaining, down-to-earth prose. Beyond being a good read, “Loonshots” addresses an often overlooked factor in the ways innovative companies
succeed at redefining their industry, making it a great addition to any entrepreneur’s library.
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5 HEALTHY FOODS YOU
SHOULD GRILL THIS SUMMER
H ere comes the sun! And not far behind it, the sound of grills being rolled out of storage for summertime cooking. Hamburgers and hot dogs are great, but if you want to shake things up, consider these five healthy foods that take on a whole new flavor when cooked on the grill.
It’s also a great alternative to red meat because it’s leaner and packed with omega-3 fatty acids. It takes minimal seasoning to make salmon tasty, and it cooks quickly. Put it on the grill skin-side down and it’s ready in 10 minutes.
Forget about the oven or microwave — put your potatoes on the grill for the fluffy consistency of a baked potato but in less time and with tasty grilled flavors. Make sure you keep the skin on to boost your fiber intake. Potatoes also have more potassium than bananas and are high in vitamin C.
Cooking peaches over an open flame softens them and maximizes their sweetness. Grilled peaches often taste like those baked in a pie, but with fewer calories than a peach pie, grilled peaches are a fantastic, healthy alternative for dessert. Put your peach halves flesh-side down on medium heat and they’ll be ready in minutes. There are a lot of great options when it comes to grilling. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your recipes, and consider some of these delicious and healthy alternatives if you’ve got a summer bod you’re hoping to keep or create.
The avocado craze continues, and you can get your grill in on the trend. Avocados are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and other nutrients. When grilled, they take on a unique, fire-roasted flavor. Cut your avocados in half, leave the peel on, and grill them flesh-side down. Consider using grilled avocados to make a smoky guacamole dip.
Crank your grill to medium heat, then place your asparagus spears perpendicular to the grill grates so they don’t fall through. A little bit of seasoning goes a long way, and these veggies pack a punch of diuretic properties that can help reduce the bloat of salty food or boozy drinks.
Salmon stands up to heat as well as a meaty protein like beef, so it’s a good choice for grilling.
Inspired by Eating Well
Springtime Cacio e Pepe
Nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of cacio e pepe , which is Italian for cheese and pepper. This dish combines a wholesome flavor profile with fresh, seasonal ingredients to satisfy any craving.
6 oz multigrain spaghetti
• • •
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
• • •
8 oz fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp black pepper 1 cup baby arugula
1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp lemon zest
Directions 1. Heat oven to 425 F. 2. In a large pot, cook spaghetti until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of water before draining and put spaghetti in a covered pot to keep warm. 3. Line a 15x10-inch baking pan with foil and toss in asparagus and olive oil. 4. Cook asparagus for 5–7 minutes and sprinkle with lemon zest. 5. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved water, Parmesan cheese, and pepper to the spaghetti. Stir until creamy. 6. Toss in asparagus and arugula before serving.
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Inside This Issue
Could You Survive Losing Your Biggest Client? How Crazy Ideas Become Innovations Is Your Best Employee About to Crash? 5 Healthy Grilling Alternatives Springtime Cacio e Pepe Should You Skip Your Workout if You’re Sick?
WHY SOME EXERCISE IS BENEFICIAL WHEN YOU’RE SICK Should You Skip Your Workout if You Don’t Feel Well?
they above and below the neck? Symptoms of a head cold, such as a runny nose, a mildly sore throat, and some congestion, shouldn’t keep you from exercising. At the very worst, you might just have to cut back the intensity of your workout. If you usually go for a run, try decreasing the time of your run or going for a walk instead. There’s actually evidence that exercise can help alleviate symptoms located above the neck when you’re sick. For instance, walking and jogging can help clear up congested nasal passages. Many runners will attest to the fact that their workout actually helps them feel better when they’re sick. There’s also evidence that yoga can boost your immune system and ease aches related to sinus issues. Saying “om” might even help too, as one study found humming could actually aid in opening clogged sinuses. If you have a fever or any type of stomach problem, however, you should skip your workout altogether. And if your workouts seem to exacerbate your sickness, take a break until the sickness subsides. That said, it’s nice to know that it takes more than a little case of the sniffles to throw off your workout routine!
Getting sick is terrible, especially if you’re trying to stick to a consistent workout routine. You may think sickness means more rest days — but in fact, depending on your symptoms, continuing to exercise could be a good thing. While it may seem like common sense to avoid exerting yourself too much when you’re feeling under the weather, the effects of exercising while you’re sick are a bit more nuanced than you think.
If you’re sick and trying to decide if you should try to get a workout in, assess where you feel your symptoms. Are they only above the neck? Or are
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