As if you didn’t already know, there is no shortage of possible paths you can take in this world, especially if you own or run your own business.
I recently shared a story with my business coach about the worst hire we ever made at Lifeblue and how it turned into, quite literally, millions of dollars. You might already be saying BS. There is no way that’s true. Bear with me, I’ll try to tell the story without writing a novel.
We hired a salesperson early in the business. It was a fail from the start. He sold one project after several months (and our price point was quite low at the time). I can’t recall exactly how long he stayed on, but near the end of his tenure, we took him to a large conference as a last ditch effort to land a sale. Low and behold, he met someone that worked for a very reputable company that was looking for a website. We closed that project. A big win for us at the time.
Later on, one of the main stakeholders for that new client approached us to work at Lifeblue. After addressing the relationship concerns of hiring someone from a client, we hired this person. Fast forward a few years and I can absolutely say this person was instrumental in our growth and success. In addition, a person from whom I learned a great deal. The outcome of the bad hire has now been more than offset, but it gets much better.
A few years later, we were approached by a very large client who wanted us to do a small project that wasn’t really in our wheelhouse. We said no. However, in a bout of passion over a Christmas break, our now tenured hire decided he would like to take on the small project with a few other team members. That effort was the beginning of a several year, multi-million dollar client.
As we started entertaining suitors to sell the business to, the success of that particular large client was very important in our attractiveness to potential buyers and subsequently our valuation. And if all that wasn’t enough, the stakeholder for the large client eventually came on to Lifeblue to help the company grow even more.
Until recently, I wasn’t sure what to make of that story, other than entertainment value. My coach helped me see it for what it was. At each of those major turning points, our possibilities were determined because we simply chose to do the next right thing.
Instead of firing the salesperson immediately after realizing this likely wasn’t going to work out, we tried everything we could to find some measure of success (which included taking him to the conference).
While we did decent work on the last project the salesperson sold, our process was horrible at the time and wrought with mistakes. However, we impressed the stakeholder(s) because we took responsibility and went out of our way to ensure we were delivering value.
We were able to bring on high caliber talent to grow the company because we weren’t set in our ways. We were flexible and always open to new ideas.
We closed the large client because we were intent on creating an environment where people could follow their passions and do their best work.
We were able to keep that large client for several years because we heavily invested in the growth and development of our team to deliver exceptional value.
We sold for the best valuation because we didn’t entertain just any buyer. We found the one that saw our potential and was the best fit for the long term future.
We didn’t poach employees from our clients. We were always the one approached and the initial answer in those few instances was always “no.” It wasn’t an option until they cleared it with our client first. We then had numerous conversations to ensure it was not going to be a problem, rather, we sought ways in how we could make it benefit to the client.
There are thousands more instances in the 15 year journey where our success was simply just doing the next right thing. And maybe, with just one little caveat. The next right thing that will matter most with the big picture in mind.
From that perspective, perhaps the number of possibilities you face aren’t as many as you might think.
This is inspiration for me as I work with clients.
How do I help them do the next right thing that will get them where they want to go?
An Agency Story
I’m starting a podcast! The first episodes will be coming out soon but check out An Agency Story podcast to hear real stories of agency owners.
Want to be a guest on the podcast? You know what to do.
Simon Sinek spoke to my soul with his new-ish book The Infinite Game. It is the foundation of making decisions with a long term approach.
Don’t like to read, check out his talk on Youtube.