do it simply - Help and Advice

Why my last 2 potential clients didn’t hire me

Sometimes I freak out a little bit when I remember that I told 2 people this month that they don’t need my services.  I essentially took opportunities that were referred specifically to me and told them that a website wasn’t necessary for their business.


Well, the conversation was much longer than me just saying, ‘you don’t need a website’. But the end result was the same.


Here’s the real head scratcher, both of them were ready to build a website and were coming to me to get some of their specific ‘website questions’ answered so that they did it right.  If I could answer these questions, make them feel comfortable, the work was going to be mine.  So what happened?


These were 2 very different businesses (selling gifts and executive coaching) but they were common in that this was their first time building a website, and their businesses were brand new.  In fact, the businesses were more of a concept then a reality.


Deciding to work in 2 of the most crowded industries without any customers or very few customers… Alert! Alert!


On the one hand this is great, it is proven that there are a lot of people out there wanting to spend money on these things, gifts and coaching.  On the other hand, you are competing with 10’s of thousands of other businesses trying to do the exact same thing, show that what they’ve got is better than what you’ve got.


Both of the businesses came to me with some very specific questions.  They revolved around what I call:


The Big 3.


  1. 1. How do I choose a name for my business/website?(this goes along with creating the logo, branding)
  2. 2. How do I create a website to show I’m legit, trendy, better than everyone else?
  3. 3. When I’m creating 1 and 2 how do I make sure I have the best SEO? Because I know I have to have great SEO!


I know it may not seem helpful, but my reply to this was;


“Do you have any customers?

If not, do you know who your customers will be and what problem you will solve for them?”


The two replies I received were along these lines.

  1. No, but I have a great idea, and I’ll sell to everyone
  2. 1 client and 2 possibilities I want my website to prove I’m legitimate

Can you guess who was who?


What I’m about to say isn’t new and I am definitely not the first person to advise this.  Yet I am constantly surprised by the reactions I get from different people when I say it.


You need actual customers to define what your business does!


Trying to cater to everyone makes you fall into competition with everyone too.  Why compete with thousands of other businesses when you can create a business that solves a specific problem for specific people.  You can have that market to yourself!


Again, there are some pretty typical responses.  There are a lot statements like “but… I can *fill in the blank*”.  But most of the time I get, ‘huh? Yes, that makes sense, wow”.


Why is having customers so important?  Without them you are essentially trying to tell people that you are great.  And how often does that work?  And how do you react to someone who comes up and says how good they are at something but you’ve never seen the proof.  Yep, proof!


Customers give you a language to use


Customers give you problem(s) to solve


Customers give you proof of how you’ve helped and how you can help others


How does choosing a name, spending money on a logo, website, SEO help you become legit?  Where is the proof in that?


Let me tell you another widely known ‘secret’.  SEO is not some trick that can only be performed by people in the know.  It doesn’t need to be a complicated plan of attack on Google to get your site up the rankings.  SEO, in it’s most perfect and simple form is this.


SEO: Provide relevant and valuable content to people you are trying to help, and do it often.


The key words here are valuable, help, and often.  If you are not providing these things essentially your web presence is all about your ego.  And nobody really cares about that.  What people care about is if you understand their problem, you can help them with it, and if you might have a new way to do this that they have never found before.


Regardless of what you have been told about Google creating algorithms that you need to figure out, it isn’t true.  Google rewards those that provide valuable content that helps, based on what someone has typed into the search box.


So let’s go back to creating that website.  What’s the harm in in me building a site for someone who wants one?  We all need to make a living right?  Why throw away some possible work when people are ready to pay for what I do?


There is a one word answer here, TRUST.


I get super excited about seeing someone start a new business.  There is an instant connection because I’ve been there and I have so many lessons learned that I want to share.


I’ve started 3 businesses that failed and made so many mistakes on the way to making this one work. I want to pass on that experience.


I am constantly learning and each time something new makes sense to me I want other people to understand it too.


I also want to congratulate them on seeing that future way to make money and create security is to build something yourself.  The world is changing fast and it isn’t in our best interest to sit back and wait for someone else to make a decision about our future.  We need to take control of it ourselves.




I want them to succeed more than I want their money.


I’m not saying this is always easy.  Being a small business means income fluctuates and turning away business doesn’t always make a lot of sense.  Yet, what would the scenario be if had offered to build them websites.


I would have listened to what they asked for, said ok, and offered some ideas.  Most likely they would be thinking about their website being just another business expense.  No more important than a few new business cards.


After our first discussion, if they felt they ‘liked’ me, I may be asked to submit some concepts and a quote.  Suddenly all of my skills and abilities are reduced to the number I put on that document.  I am 1 of 1000’s out there who build websites.  My quote, my business, becomes a commodity that can be measured not by my skills or knowledge but by what I put on that piece of paper.


I’ve been reduced to a number.


How does this scenario look when I tell them they don’t need a website and why?  I am no longer someone who just builds websites.  We’ve opened a much bigger discussion around what it takes to make their business work and possibly how a website can add to it and make it grow.


I talk a lot about how I build partnerships with my clients and this is one way I do it.  A partnership can and should start way before my services are engaged.  Sometimes it takes a year of talking and nurturing a relationship before it ever turns into a project that we work on together.


I create partnerships from the moment we meet not when money exchanges hands.


If you would like to talk about a partnership now or in the future.  Please get in touch.

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    Posted in For Business Owners, For everyoneTagged , ,

    One response to “Why my last 2 potential clients didn’t hire me”

    1. […] didn’t learn this lesson at 17 that’s for sure, but I have now.  Like I wrote about last week, I would much rather help a business succeed, then take their money because they think they need a […]

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