Relationships: Partners, Vendors, Employees and Clients
Great Partners Make
All The Difference.
When you work alongside people who “get” you, there’s no doubt that your
quality of life improves. The best partners, be they inside or outside
your company, are people committed to creating a positive result, people
who understand your vision and are willing to apply their passions,
talents, and resources to help you realize it. In an ideal partnership,
working together will create an opportunity for each of you to grow and
progress toward your respective goals. This is what we call a Right-Fit
Not Just Anyone Will Do.
A lot of entrepreneurs chalk this up to luck: Sometimes they find great
people to work with, and sometimes they get into relationships with
people they later wish they’d never met.
Entrepreneurs often lament that they can’t find the right person,
whether it’s a great assistant, a reliable vendor, a ghost-writer who
understands them, a strategic IT manager, or someone to fill any one of
the countless other roles they may need to delegate. Experience will
tell you that relationships on which you will spend a lot of time,
resources, and money are too important to leave up to chance.
Yet without a system for creating consistently good results, hiring or
taking on a new vendor or strategic partner can often feel like a
crapshoot. You know what they’ve promised and how they’ve packaged
themselves upfront, but you can only hope that they’ll actually deliver.
Crossing your fingers each time you take on someone new makes the
experience more stressful than many of us would like. Eventually, seeing
high hopes result in bad experiences too many times can even deter you
from seeking out the help and additional capabilities you need to grow
One way to greatly improve the odds of finding a Right-Fit relationship
is to create and articulate your own criteria for success in the role
you’re trying to fill. A short list of seven to ten criteria will help
you clearly see what the most important qualities of the relationship
are from your perspective. Though this may seem like an obvious step,
very few people actually take the time to do it. What you’re creating is
not a job description or a request for proposal, but rather a filter to
help you communicate what you’re looking for and understand when you’ve
found it. A Right-Fit profile can act as that filter.
Consistently Spotting The Good Ones.
So how do you identify these criteria and determine which are the most
important? In most cases, the wisdom you need is contained in your past
relationships — both the good ones and the bad ones. Creating a
Right-Fit profile involves drawing from examples of your best
relationships and asking what made them such ideal situations, getting
as specific as possible, then taking a look at your worst relationships
and asking what, specifically, made these people or organizations such a
bad fit. From this reflection, it is usually possible to distil some key
standards that must be met in order to have a great relationship
To illustrate, here’s how we’ve articulated one of our profiles, a
Right-Fit Vendor for The Strategic Coach®:
Delivers top-quality results consistently; best value for money.
Fully understands and addresses our dangers, opportunities, and
strengths, and looks at things from our perspective.
Is proactive and reliable, and provides clear and timely communication.
Provides above-and-beyond customer service; Back Stage brilliance.
Has a professional Front Stage.
Is a Unique Ability® specialist with expertise and a proven track record
Is aligned with our core values and philosophy.
Is transparent, open, and honest.
Is accountable for results; takes responsibility.
Handles obstacles with grace and ease; protects us and helps us avoid
You can see how this list helps us communicate what’s most important in
the relationships we have with vendors. Our measures and expectations
for a successful outcome are all articulated up front. Behind each of
these criteria is a plethora of stories of both good and bad experiences
that support our conviction that this is a vital quality. If someone is
unwilling to be the person or company described in this profile, we know
in advance that it isn’t a Right-Fit for us or for them. By the same
token, it tells vendors exactly what will make us a very happy customer,
taking the guesswork out of their job — because there’s nothing worse
than a client with shifting expectations.
The Right-Fit Client
Our definition of an entrepreneur — the kind of person we work best with
— is very specific. For our purposes, “successful entrepreneurs” are
Determine their own hours; they are free to work or not work when they
Work for themselves (and have done so for at least three years)
Are free to choose whom they work with.
That last point is crucial.
The people around you — the team within your organization, and the
clients, customers, and prospects you interact with — have an enormous
influence on the quality of your working life.
Think about one of your best clients. This is someone who helps your
business grow, someone who refers others to you, someone with whom doing
business is enjoyable.
Wouldn’t it be great if all your clients were like that?
“Rooting and Grubbing.”
Of course, most entrepreneurs start out so concerned about bringing in
enough cheques that picking and choosing their clients seems like an
unaffordable luxury. In the earliest days of The Strategic Coach®, Babs
would jokingly tell Dan that it was time to go “rooting and grubbing” —
rooting for new business and grubbing for cheques.
But the classic “80/20” rule illustrates that the clients who take up 80
percent of your time only provide about 20 percent of your revenue, and,
conversely, the top 20 percent of your clients provide the other 80
percent of your revenue. What this indicates is that not every
relationship is an equally good use of your time and energy. Some
relationships are naturally a better fit than others. Too many wrong-fit
situations can create a serious drain on your resources and greatly
reduce how much you enjoy being an entrepreneur.
X-ray Specs For New Business.
How can you know beforehand whom to invite into your business life? This
is an important question in every entrepreneurial business, so we’ve
created a way of looking into new relationships with a kind of X-ray
vision. We call it “The Right-Fit Client.”
A Right-Fit Client has two qualities. This is the kind of person who:
Creates the best result for you
Gets the most out of what you have to offer
The raw material for your Right-Fit criteria comes from your experience
of your best relationships and your worst relationships in terms of the
results and rewards they’ve created on both sides, and the amount of
effort required to maintain them.
As an illustration, we discovered that the Right-Fit Client for The
Strategic Coach® Program:
Is qualified — they’re experienced, successful, and have no “boss” or
Is committed to personal growth and transformation
Wants a balanced life
Is coachable — open to new concepts and tools
Has a desire to participate and share
Understands that the Program is a process, not a quick fix
Decides on their own to join the Program and pays for themselves
Putting This Insight To Work.
Once you know who you’re looking for, it becomes much easier to attract
the right relationships and avoid wrong-fit situations. For instance,
having identified the kind of person who stays in The Strategic Coach
Program and gets the most out of it, our sales team is able to evaluate
every prospect to see if they are a Right-Fit.
This benefits both us and the prospect because it clarifies upfront
whether the relationship is likely to be successful and deliver on both
sides over the long term. Including your Right-Fit criteria in marketing
communications will also help prospective clients or customers
self-select based on whether they think you’re a fit for their needs.
The more they identify with the criteria, the more excited and confident
they’ll be about doing business with you, even before you’ve had any
Having a definition of your Right-Fit Client takes you beyond instinct
and guesswork, and provides you with a template for creating only good
relationships. Concern about turning away business may tempt you to
consider breaking these rules, but once you have this insight, you’ll
always know better than to give in. If a relationship doesn’t work out
for you, it probably ran afoul of your own spoken or unspoken standards.
But when you surround yourself with Right-Fit relationships, your whole
future opens up: Relationships that previously left you stressed and
stagnant are transformed into those that support growth and progress,
connecting you with the people you want to be around every day.
Putting It To The Test.
Your Right-Fit profile is a living document that you can keep amending
as you learn more about who your best partners are. The sooner you start
applying this approach, using whatever criteria you have, the sooner
you’ll experience an increase in confidence — knowing that you can
deliberately and consistently create the kinds of working relationships
you value and enjoy most.
© 2007 The Strategic Coach